MEET PETRA, AGE 55, MASTERED FRONT CRAWL IN HER EARLY 50’s, QUALIFIED AS AN NPLQ LIFEGUARD IN APRIL 2018

"I learned to swim as a child, but only swam breaststroke, and as the years went by I swam less and less. In my 40's I started to run, and in my 50's I decided to learn front crawl to complement my running. I didn’t expect to become particularly interested in swimming, so no-one was more surprised than I was to find out I loved it! 

"I did continue to progress with my swimming, but I am a realist, and I knew that I was never going to set the world on fire with my swimming ability or pace. As a result, I was on the look-out for a new challenge.  Professionally, I work in cardiology research at the University of Leeds and I saw an advert at their swimming pool, The Edge, for the NPLQ lifeguard course. I instantly knew I had found my next focus and a way of taking my swimming in a new direction. Learning new skills is something I thrive on and it is also very good for the brain.

"I was so impressed with the young people who were on the course, how quickly they learn, as well as how responsibly and professionally they behaved. We worked very well as a team and that was something the assessor commented on, which was of course also a great credit to our trainer.

"Currently, I am applying for casual lifeguard work in my area. I already have a full-time job, so it must fit in with that. In the meantime, I am working some shifts on a voluntary basis at a local community-run outdoor pool. I am very glad of the opportunity to gain experience and I find it very positive to work with young lifeguards, who take the responsibility seriously. 

"So far, I find the 'fun with floats' sessions the most challenging! It takes a lot of concentration to keep an eye on a pool full of playing children. I think some people may have the perception that lifeguarding is boring, but you can never look away from the pool. When we hear about people losing their lives in the water, it brings the seriousness and level of responsibility of the job home to all of us. 

"I am in a fortunate position that whilst I look for the right lifeguard position, I can access ongoing training at The Edge. I also recently participated in the 'IQL UK Lifeguard Triathlon' as part The Edge's lifeguard team. The Triathlon certainly brought out my competitive side! Obviously, my swim speed is not going to beat the youngsters, but I definitely held my own in the CPR and knowledge components.

"I am genuinely surprised that there seem to be so few older lifeguards, I think Qualified as a ‘young person's’ job. I admit, I was quite apprehensive about the timed swims which form part of the NPLQ course, they are pretty tough, but I did do them with some time to spare, so I hope this is reassuring for anyone who's interested but nervous.

" I would highly recommend doing the NPLQ course to anyone who enjoys swimming and is reasonably fit. The flexibility of the role is a big plus point and I am really enjoying the social aspect of lifeguarding too."