UB students dive into jobs as on-campus lifeguards


Marwan Elbliety’s on-campus job has required him to jump into a pool fully clothed.

Elbliety, a senior business major, works as a lifeguard at UB. Last year, he had to perform a save while he was acting as a teacher’s assistant during a beginners swimming class.

“One of the girls entered the water and panicked right away, so I jumped in fully clothed wearing a hoodie, shoes and sweatpants – since I wasn’t on duty I didn’t have my swim gear on – and I carried her out,” Elbliety said.

Not every job at UB requires experience with food or customer service. There are 86 students and three recent alumni who serve as lifeguards at UB, according to Nathan Bourke, the aquatics director. Currently, 27 students are on the waiting list to be hired for next semester and need to take a lifeguard assessment.

Lifeguards are hired to observe and enforce rules at the pools at Alumni Arena on North Campus and Clark Hall on South Campus. Students who serve as lifeguards work at the pools as a way to make money during the semester.

When Kristina Goehringer, a senior accounting major, applied to be a lifeguard at UB, her “interview” consisted of a 500-yard swim and a 2-minute tread without hands followed by a four-part lifeguard skills test.

These four parts included a spinal rescue, passive victim rescue and two written tests.

The lifeguard assessment is a 30-hour course that evaluates students’ skills to determine whether or not they are qualified to be a lifeguard at UB. Students have to perform saves, use CPR, first aid and backboards, retrieve a brick from the bottom of the pool and be able distance swim.

“I’m a lifeguard back at home and also needed to work at school to make money so it was kind of just the perfect job,” Goehringer said.

In order to be qualified to work at the pools, you need first aid, CPR and lifeguard certifications, all of which are certified by the American Red Cross.

Lifeguards can work various shifts, including recreational shifts where guards keep an eye on students coming to swim freely and shifts for the swimming and diving team practices for the Division I and club teams at UB. Student lifeguards also supervise community members and local club swimming and diving teams like the Buffalo Area Aquatic Club (BAAC) and Wings Diving.

During these shifts, students have to oversee patrons, enforce rules and complete other tasks assigned by their supervisors.

“Rules that need to be enforced include no running, no diving, no swimming in closed lanes, no hanging on the lane lines and other standard pool rules,” Goehringer said.

Andrew Funk, a senior business major,works seven shifts per week, which comes out to about 13 hours per week. He is also an LGI, which means he co-teaches the ATH122 class called lifeguard training – this adds another five hours to his work schedule.

Regular lifeguards make $11 an hour. Supervisors make $13 an hour. LGIs (lifeguard instructors) and WSIs (water safety instructors) make more when doing lessons or teaching.

Although saves don’t happen often at the pools at UB, Funk once had to save a girl from drowning in the Alumni Arena pool.

“Saving people here tends to be uneventful,” Funk said. “There aren’t as many incidents in recreational lap pools – ocean lifeguards have to perform a lot more saves. In my case, it was just a girl drowning in the diving well so I had to get her back to the surface and to the wall.”

Though it’s important to always keep an eye on the pool, friendships develop from taking the class together and working to keep everyone safe.

Elbliety said that he has made a lot of friends from working at the UB pools and the only difficult part of the job so far has been dealing with disrespectful patrons.

“I love it,” Funk said. “Good people, nice environment and opportunities to get involved with other aspects of Alumni. There’s not much I personally have to complain about working there – I kind of have a good niche there.”

Dani Guglielmo is a features desk editor and can be reached at dani.guglielmo@ubspectrum.com.