Our regular readers should be familiar with our interview series, Child Safety Source. In each episode, Life Saver Pool Fence’s president, Eric Lupton, speaks with talented people who are working to keep children safe. Today, Child Safety Source is speaking with water safety expert Marrick McDonald.

Getting to Know Marrick McDonald

Marrick McDonald is the CEO and Owner of Upstate Aquatics. She has a long history with aquatic safety. She’s been a lifeguard since 1992 and a Water Safety Instructor since 1995.

A few years later, Marrick started teaching the teachers. You see, she became a Water Safety Instructor Trainer and Lifeguard Instructor Trainer in 1999. Throughout her 20 years as an Instructor Trainer, she has organized two Aquatic Schools. Additionally, she’s chaired the chapter aquatic committee, the chapter Instructor Trainer Candidate Cadre, and the American Red Cross Board of Directors.

As you can see, Marrick McDonald knows her stuff. Her breadth of experience led her to mentor the largest group of Instructor Trainer Candidates in New York State. Likewise, she piloted an Adapted Aquatics program designed for autistic individuals. Marrick is the primary author of the Aquatic Guidebook for School Administrators.

Watch our full video interview here:

About Upstate Aquatics

During the interview, we discussed Marrick’s Upstate Aquatics, a licensed training provider of the American Red Cross. At this organization, Marrick and her team offer basic and instructor level American Red Cross Health and Safety courses. Additionally, it is the largest provider of American Red Cross instructor-level training in the Upstate New York area.

If you’d like to learn more, visit the official website.

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Below is a direct transcript of the Child Safety Source interview with Marrick McDonald from November 19th, 2018:

Eric Lupton: And just like that. We are live on the internet. How’s it going? 

Marrick McDonald: It’s good. How are you?

Eric: I’m fantastic. Thank you so much for doing this.

Marrick: You’re welcome.

Eric:  I really appreciate it. So you have a really interesting, background and you do something, because we’ve talked to you know, a lot of swim instructors, but you do it a bit differently and you know, your curriculum is a bit unique. So, you know, I was excited to learn more about it and hear from you, you know, kind of you know, what exactly you do and why you do it. So what got you into doing what you do?

Marrick: I grew up with a swimming pool. My grandmother. It was our community where we went as a family to spend time as a family. My mom is the oldest of 10 kids and that’s where my cousins and I got to misbehave together.

Eric: Only 10?

Marrick: Only ten you know, it was a small farm family, you know small tiny.

Eric: Tiny?

Marrick: Tiny so that’s where we got to misbehave with my cousin. So the pool was always the social aspect, and my high school also had a pool. So I was a year-round swimmer, taking swimming and that kind of thing. So I always loved swimming and then was encouraged through one of my former physical education teachers, to gain more certification. And I did that and became a Red Cross volunteer and I was a “voluntold.”

There’s a difference between a volunteer and a voluntold. I was voluntold that I would become an instructor trainer. And so I’m an American Red Cross instructor trainer and water safety, like our training first aid and CPR and I’ve been doing that at the same time. I went back. I went to school to become an English and social studies teacher and we did aquatic schools when Red Cross had health and safety as part of the chapter.

He did aquatic schools and. I had fun. It was aquatic bonding and the kids learned and it was an awesome experience. I decided that education was not where I wanted to go. We looked at creating some training outlets. And that’s where Upstate Aquatics came into the business. Upstate Aquatics, we are a training partner of the American Red Cross and we teach American Red Cross curriculum all over Upstate, New York.

Eric: Awesome so I imagine your season is pretty short, or do you teach all year long?

Marrick:  I teach all year long, especially with the mandated lifeguard instructor and instructed trainer review courses. We spend winter prepping for summer.

Eric: That’s it?

Marrick: So.

Eric:  Where are you now, by the way? It looks like a classroom.

Marrick: I am in the American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley, actually in a classroom.

Eric: Nice.

Marrick: Yes.

Eric:  So do you, work in the American Red Cross office?

Marrick: No, I don’t work in the American Red Cross office.

Eric: What facility then?

Marrick: We had some snow issues. So I had to rearrange my schedule and find a conference room where I had internet access. So yes, I came to hide and the American Red Cross which I do on occasion.

Eric: So what made you choose? What do you like about the American Red Cross curriculum?

Marrick: I like the fact that it’s user-friendly. It’s instructor friendly. It’s streamlined and progressive. So that if you take level 1 you can advance the level 2 and you’re actually gaining some knowledge. Any time any swimmer takes any kind of Learners from class. They always learn something, that could potentially save their lives.

I don’t necessarily if students aren’t successful in a learn to swim level and have to repeat that level. I don’t consider that as a failure. That’s not a word that parents like to hear. I feel it’s an opportunity for the students to reinforce the skills that they learned or didn’t learn and they can learn those through another instructor.

So I think that’s important that F word when parents hear failure my kid failed to swim at level three. Which is a common level to fail by the way? When they fail a level the parents take that personally and that’s not something to take personally.

Eric: So how do you move on from that?

Marrick:  I think that students are more excited as a stigma for parents more so than kids. Students when they take swimming lessons, they’re excited, and as long as they’re in an exciting environment where there’s learning going on, and you go at it from a positive perspective, the learner is definitely, it’s all in how you present it. And as long as adults don’t prevent it as a negative thing, then the kids are more apt to dig into it and enjoy the activity. And you have to make your swimming fun swimming is fun. That’s what joint. That’s what got me into swimming was how much fun I had and, you know, behaving or misbehaving with my cousin’s at my grandmother’s pool. That’s what we did.

Eric: So what is level three, what makes it so hard?

Marrick: It’s a combination of, it’s the first level when you’re actually learning how to put some strokes together and at a rudimentary level. We are introducing some rhythmic breathing. And there are four different swimming kicks that they’re learning. They’re learning to reinforce the flutter kick, learning the whip kick, learning the dolphin kick, for the breath for the butterfly, and learning scissors kick. So it’s a lot of leg action. When you learn how to ride a bicycle you learn the bicycle kick and a lot of kids use that when they’re swimming because that propels them on the land. So it’s going to propel them in the water. And once they introduce that into their strokes, it gets a little challenging to undo that bicycle kick within their swimming ability. So it takes a little time to undo that so that they can be successful as they advanced to the layer levels of the learn to swim program.

Eric: And how many levels are there total?

Marrick: There are six levels in the American Red Cross learn to swim program. Learn to swim level 6 has three options; fundamentals of swimming, fundamentals of fitness fundamentals of diving and swimming proficiency, I believe is the last one. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at, that course title.

Eric:  And what age limits are we talking about here?

Marrick: This is from five to teenage. The Red Cross has developed in this program has developed an adult learn to swim level. We realize that not everybody’s going to learn to swim as a child.

So this allows adults to be able to learn some foundational and fundamental and safety skills so that they can be successful with their children and be comfortable in the water. It’s very interesting when I taught backyard swimming lessons how many parents I would also be teaching they’d be listening to the lecture of the child that I was giving the child. And then they would ask questions and practice what they were doing. So people want aquatic knowledge and this is an opportunity for teens and adults to be able to get that in a safe environment.

Eric: And do you get a lot of adults. Is that come in?

Marrick: Yeah, that’s more common than you would think. I live near Utica. And Utica is Yuka of York and that is one of the largest Refugee cities in the United States. So the city of Utica teaches 35 different languages, every single day, written or spoken in that school district. So as adults are moving here from those areas.

They’re not necessarily exposed to quality aquatic education. So it’s those many of the students that I’ve taught have been individuals from those countries who want that basic level knowledge because they see their child in a learn to swim class and they don’t want their child to know more than they do.

Eric: Sure.

Marrick: That’s fine.

Eric: And if something goes wrong and gotta be able to take care of it, also, you know.

Marrick: Definitely, and in a safe manner where they’re not hurting themselves in the process.

Eric:  Right? Absolutely ideally, right. So, what do you recommend for under five? So if you’re [inaudible 09:10] five under?

Marrick:  Under five, there’s a preschool program. It’s for four and five-year-olds. There are three levels of Preschool Aquatics and that’s geared towards that age range. It takes to learn to swim levels 1, 2, and 3. And breaks down one and two and breaks them down into three levels so that the students aren’t inundated with a lot of information and are able to to learn at their own pace. The majority of kids that are drowning are under seven. Or they are 7 and under, and they’re drowning in four feet of water. So we want to make sure that we’re definitely hitting the target area of kids who are drowning. That population is definitely at risk. So we want to make sure where we’re meeting that need and I think the Red Cross is doing that, for that program.

Eric: I mean. A little under four?

Marrick: There is a parent and child Aquatic program that it’s six months to three-ish, one till they get into preschool and it’s where their parent and the child are in the water and they’re learning at the same time and gaining some basic fundamental skills in the process.

Eric: Okay. So when someone’s looking into a swim instructor for the American Red Cross specifically, what kind of qualifications should they be looking for?

Marrick: Well, you want to make sure that any swimming class that your kids are taking as taught by a certified instructor a swimming instructor, whether it be a water safety instructor or a basic swimming instructor.

Both of those are the recognized aquatic credentials. A lot of facilities are using, lifeguards in order to teach swimming lessons and lifeguards have the skill ability to be able to rescue you and save your life. They don’t have the knowledge to be able to break down the swimming strokes and teach them in a way that is necessary and developmentally appropriate for your learner’s.

And that’s important. So you want to make sure that you are learning and have certified swim instructors teach those courses so that you make sure that your students are learning those skills appropriately and have the best person teaching the content. If you’re taking an English class you want an English teacher, teaching your class.

You don’t want a science teacher, because they may not know how to, teach you that class. So it’s the same rationale with that.

Eric:  Could you please hold on for a second. Mike, can you please take this address is going to fall off the headdress, the headphone. There we go.

Marrick: Awesome.

Eric: I felt it slowly sliding off the back of my head.  The back of my head this second which [inaudible 12:12] was the first time for that. So, one of the questions you sent me was what are some basic water skills that you felt that a child should be able to do? I assume you mean after lessons or in general.

Marrick: In general, if you want your student to be able to know where they’re at. And I remember them by drops, the D stands for directions does my student have the ability to change direction while they’re in the water. R stands for rhythmic breathing where rhythmic breathing is the ability to blow bubbles underwater and come up and take a breath, is my swimmer going under water coming up wiping their face or are they at the progression, of, where Missy Franklin and Michael Phelps are. That’s the whole continuum of rhythmic breathing and where’s my learner on that, scale. O stands for…

Eric: So hold on, what is the problem of wiping your face?

Marrick: That’s at the beginning level of rhythmic breathing because you want to use your hands for other things while you’re swimming.

Eric: Okay.

Marrick: So if you’re thinking about a little kid when they’re first learning to go underwater, okay, they go under they come up they wipe their face.

Eric: Isn’t it like having water in their eyes [inaudible 13:13].

Marrick: They don’t like having water in their eyes. So they’re at the beginning level of the rhythmic breathing progression. All the way down to you know, am I blowing bubbles and I’m lifting my head up or my blowing bubbles and am I turning my head to the side to bring air in? The goal with rhythmic reading is you’re exhaling underwater and you’re inhaling when your face is above water so that you’re when you’re swimming either any of The Strokes that require rhythmic breathing that you have the ability to have a consistent stroke and a consistent breathing pattern. That’s what rhythmic breathing is all about. So, where is my swimmer on that progression? O stands for over, does my swimmer have the ability to roll over. Most swimmers swim on their front, okay, but a good safety skill if they get tired is to roll over and float.

So do they have the ability to roll over like how you roll over in your bed every night? P stands for prone, which means front. What does my front swimming look like? What does my front floating look like? Most people think that they can’t float. It’s just that they haven’t found the way that floating works for them.

Everyone can float. They just need to figure out what floating works for them. Whether they’re they’re finning or waving their hands underneath their butt to help keep their butt up. That’s perfectly acceptable, as long as they’re keeping themselves above water. Because that’s a safety scalp and S stands for the back.

What does their back look like? What back swimming looks like? What does their back floating look like?

Eric: How does S stand for back by the way?

Marrick: [inaudible 15:24] S equal supine.

Eric: Okay got there we go.

Marrick: I’m sorry I forgot to define the vocabulary [inaudible 15:30].

Eric: That’s got your back and like I don’t think so.

Marrick: Yes I get it, it’s that’s supine. Supine means fine.

Eric: Perfect.

Marrick: Okay.

Eric: So all of their back essence or backhand and?

Marrick: What is their back swimming look like? What is their back floating look like? If they have a strong back crawl? Do they have a strong elementary backstroke?  Are they making progress in the water? Are they moving through the water at an ease, or are they sinking in the process as they’re swimming?

Eric: Awesome.

Marrick: Yes.

Eric: So we talk a lot about ages 1 to 4 because for us that’s the danger window where drowning mostly occurs, right? We all know I say I literally have a video series I’m doing right now where I say once a day on video that drowning is the number one accidental killer of children between the ages of one and four.

Marrick: Correct.

Eric: [inaudible 16:23 protection is the solution and I’m going to repeat this on video. Day until everyone knows it. I think that the clip will be today’s video. So yes, I will try and get that on all the time and we talked to a lot of people who teach.  You talk about rolling around floating, you know, the role around float courses is started from 6 months and on. Do you find that students who take those courses do better when they get to you know, American Red Cross at 4 or 5 years old?

Marrick: Definitely. They’re more confident in the water. We don’t have to worry about them., listening to what we’re going to say because the pool classroom if you look at it like that the pool classroom is a very dangerous place If you don’t have qualified people. So you want to make sure when those students hit that classroom that they’re dealing with, they have any kind of prior knowledge that definitely helps them in that pool classroom.  And that gives them the prior knowledge.

Eric: How many kids are usually in a quote-unquote classroom.

Marrick: The ratio should be one to ten .One instructor to 10 students. So that way it helps to maintain safety and whenever they’re teaching, whenever the instructor is engaged in instruction, there should be a lifeguard on the pool deck at all times. That’s American Red Cross policy. And that’s also in New York state, which is where I am. That’s a New York state requirement.

Eric: It makes good sense. And with that number, do you feel that number should be lower for younger kids and progressed up to a scale or it one to ten works?

Marrick:  One to ten does work. It does work, especially if you’re introducing some kind of floatation with them, whether you’re introducing them to to a pool noodle or a barbell or a PFD a personal flotation device within that setting that creates a safe environment for them

Eric:  And you know, I think a lot of people like the idea of you know one on one classes, but I think there should be. I bet there’s a benefit from having other kids in the pool, for motivational support and emulation.

Marrick: There is, because a lot of the learning happens, ironically when I pull the kids out of the water and make them watch their classmates.

Eric: Sure.

Marrick: What do you see that they’re doing really well?  What do you see that they can improve upon, because I can say it till I’m blue in the face, but once they hear it from up here? It’s a totally different ball game because they are actually learning from up here. It’s called port reciprocal teaching. But it’s a whole different ball game because it’s coming from someone who is within their age range and they trust. I’m just the stranger in the room.

Eric: Right. And in an adult rank.

Marrick: I’m the adult, yes.

Eric:  Everything you say has a layer of mistrust.

Marrick: It does. Why is that?

Eric:  I’ve no idea. You should know more right? They should look at you and say this lady has at least four or five times more experience than what I have, we should probably listen to what she’s saying.

Marrick: No, it’s all good. It’s all good in this generation weather into playing video games. And that’s a that’s an issue. These kids now are less physically active so because they’re less physically active as they don’t know their bodies. So when we try to say like simple when we say simple things like put your legs together and up in the water.

They don’t have the association to be able to do that. I mean I grew up. In the country on Dairy Farm and I was jumping out of hay mouths and doing crazy things like that when I was four five and six so I understood my body at that point and you know that I needed to feet to land and that kind of stuff. This, now kids aren’t playing so much. So they don’t have the association with their bodies. So that when it comes time to taking swimming lessons, there’s a lot of that teaching. Let’s learn to know what our bodies are capable of so that we can be successful in the water. Because if they don’t know what their bodies can do on land then that transition of knowing what to be able to do in the water takes a lot longer for kids as well.

Eric: So, how long have you been teaching?

Marrick:  I’ve been teaching Aquatics for 25 years. I’ve been an instructor trainer for twenty.

Eric: Okay, so in the last will say 25 years. Have you seen a dip in athleticism in children?

Marrick: I have because their life is more sedentary. I watch my cousin’s kids a lot and I see them on you know, the iPads watching television, you know engaging in that kind of activity. They’re not outside physically. Climbing trees, playing in the sand, that kind of stuff that we did like bike riding. The kind of stuff that I did as a kid. So I knew my body and knew what my body could do where these kids are learning for the first time when I put them in a pool. What their bodies can do and so they’re coming in with less prior knowledge of what their body can do and that therefore it takes longer for kids to be successful and learn to swim, because they don’t know what their bodies can do.

Eric: You know, I actually wondered if that might be the case. I also wondered if, there was a possibility that, 30 years ago when I was little if we had the adults of the time, complain that you know, we watch too much TV, the cartoons or the video games. It wasn’t, the iPhone and Xbox it was, Nintendo and Sega and, it was the same kind of arguments. It was just different stuff, so I was wondering if you know if there was an activity dip or if you know our television and Nintendo just got replaced with YouTube and the iPhone right? But you know, I if you say it, I believe it if you know if kids have the decreasing ability I can see it.

Marrick: Yes, well the amount of screen time.

Eric: It’s gone up.

Marrick: It’s gone up, you’re not carrying. I mean when we were growing up we weren’t carrying a smartphone in our pocket. And can distract ourselves with a smartphone or even you know, just watching whatever? We had some downtime, you know on the school bus and that kind of stuff, but now that’s not necessarily the case.

Eric: I wonder if there will be a pendulum back the other way. You know, usually, that’s how this thing works. Right? Well, you see things go in one direction it gets, a little too extreme and then it swings back the other way, you know.

Marrick: I think hopefully but I think we’re still in the middle of the swing right now because we’re still doing the research on the impact of what screens are doing to our children. So I think we’re still on that swing. So when the research comes out, we will know better.

Eric:  It will be interesting to see how different it is from. As I said, you know, we were young we were accused of spending a lot of time, you know watching TV and you know, the cartoons the Video Games Etc.

So I’m curious to see how it pans out. It’ll be interesting. You know, we will have a whole generation of people who are really good at using technology and the internet and you know who grew up natively using these devices so. You know, I wonder if the impact on society will be worth it in total but back on topic.

So you also do life her training, right?

Marrick: I do lifeguard training and lifeguard instructor training.

Eric: Okay. So do you teach people how to teach lifeguards?

Marrick: Correct.

Eric: Nice, and obviously there’s a big difference between teaching lifeguards and teaching kids.

Marrick: Yes

Eric:  So, you know, I always think that lifeguard is we are too young. I have a personal opinion that you know, a sixteen-year-old shouldn’t be responsible for, someone’s life essentially. Especially because there’s a possibility that a mistake could have been made by, anybody or something could go terribly wrong and someone dies in a pool. The guilt and weight of that, I don’t think a 16-year-old should have to deal with that.I don’t think anybody should, but I definitely don’t think 16-year old. Do you have any thoughts on the age of lifeguards? Are the maturity level is that an acceptable age, do they do a good job at that age? Am I completely wrong?

Eric:  The 15-year-olds that I’ve supervised. You can take a lifeguarding course at 15.

Eric: Okay 15, okay.

Marrick: The 15-year-olds in the 16-year-olds that I’ve supervised. They’re on point. They know what they’re doing. They realize the seriousness of this issue and they’re at it for the right reason, they love swimming and they want to make sure people are safe. And they did it because they wanted to do, they didn’t do it because they were told that they needed to take the class because they’re good swimmers, because there are lots of parents that do that. They were voluntold?

Marrick:  No they weren’t voluntold. They actually volunteered to take the class. So I think that 15 is okay if you look at what we’re doing 15,16, they’re driving cars. That’s a lot of responsibility too, they are behind the wheel of a car and as long as they’re in an aquatic facility that setting them up for Success. They’ll be fine. Yes. There is a lot of repercussions on if someone drowns.  I recognize the seriousness of that. I’ve personally dealt with that one of my classmates drowned and my high school pool. She had a seizure so I know what that’s like to get back in the water after someone had drowned in that pool facility.

But at the same time, if they’re in for in it for the right reasons, they do the in-service training that they need to do in order to maintain the quality of lifeguards that, they were when they got certified. They should be fine. We had an accident at one of the facilities that I was the director of, and I had 15, 16, and 18-year-olds on the pool deck at that time.

And the first thing that I did when I got the clearance for those guards to be able to open again, was put those two back on that chair so that they knew, one I trusted them to do their job and two that they gain the self-confidence. What they did was actually right in that they know what they’re doing. The longer you keep them out of the chair the longer you keep them from guarding, the less likely that they’re going to get back in and want to be able to save lives.

Eric: Why do you think lifeguarding is a profession that seems to be geared towards younger people?

Marrick:  Well it is geared towards younger people. The average lifeguard age is 17. It’s because they have that summer off there. They feel that they’re the most physically fit to be able to do those rescues that are in need. But if you look at the statistics now, you’re seeing a curve of the current kids in high school, college age isn’t necessarily getting summer jobs because of internships and that kind of thing that’s required for college degrees. So you’re seeing a shift of age where the seniors are retired the second career, they’re going and becoming lifeguards and lifeguard instructors for facilities as they’re transitioning for something else to do in their life. It’s not necessarily right now the average age of 17, but I don’t see that in the next decade being 17. I see it being a lot higher.

Eric: Can people be a lifeguard as a career? I mean, you know, the average age is 17, but could someone theoretically do it. I mean is there room in it to grow into something you do professionally?

Marrick: Definitely. People are shocked that I was a school teacher and this, being an aquatic instructor trainer was something I did on the side and weekends, there is growth in aquatic.

There are aquatic facilities being built. There’s a dire need for lifeguard instructors and instructor trainers and water safety instructors and instructor trainers to teach classes across the country. Those are courses that, not a lot of people those numbers have dwindled since I first became a lifeguard instructor, first aid and CPR instructor and a safety instructor. Those numbers are down because one a lot of facilities, aren’t there mandating their lifeguards to each swimming courses.

So they’re not looking for someone who’s a qualified inspector and two the only places in New York where it’s really mandated are camps they need.  swimming instructors to swim test their campers for camp.

So really there’s that level of training was higher sought when I was younger than it is now, in some cases.

Eric: Why do those numbers [inaudible 31:43] you think?

Marrick: Well in the Northeast part, of it, is pool access. A lot of the schools in New York have pools but there is no reinforcement, forcing of training vice by school administrators who don’t necessarily understand the certifications of Aquatics.

I was one of them. I was a school administrator, but I speak both languages as I jokingly call it the language of Aquatics and the language of school administration.

So I know the number of questions that I’ve been asked by school administrators, they don’t know what they’re looking for when they’re looking to hire people. So they’re not looking at credentials. They’re not mandating credentials. So that’s a problem. Most people think that this is, especially up in the Northeast that this is a three-month stint. That’s all you’re doing when that’s not reality. We’re prepping for the summer all year long.

Getting people into classes doing the training doing the mandatory in New York. It’s mandatory that you have your CPR and CPR certification every single year as opposed to every two years. So we’re doing all of the mandated training. That’s what’s happening across the other nine months of the year.

Eric: So would you say there’s a lifeguard shortage?

Marrick: There is a lifeguard shortage.

Eric: Is that why or is there something else?

Marrick:  Apart from it’s not recognized that it’s a professional level course. The salaries, the hourly wages for lifeguards it’s not compensatory to the training that they need. When kids can go to McDonald’s and make the same amount that they’re making at, you know a lifeguard course, why would they expend the money spend the money to gain a certification, when they have to then pay for the certification and then get the job.  Many of the jobs are not paying for themselves the amount of money that they’re expending for their certifications. So that’s a challenge. So until that happens the lack of kids right now wanting to gain their certification until that transition settles and we get some older people involved in that.

Yes, there is a lifeguard shortage. And the other issue is lifeguards instructors. We need some. The American Red Cross has gone through which I’m totally for by the way, has gone through and mandated that lifeguard instructors in order to maintain their certification teach one course of record and then take a course every year, every two years, to maintain their certification and that course is taught by an instructor trainer.

So a lot of instructors don’t want to take that course. But they are deeming it as too much work. So so they’re allowing that that certification to lapse. So there’s a decrease of instructors as a result of that training.

Eric: What you think is that good training? If necessary.

Marrick: I think it’s concerning that it’s necessary. I think that the collegiality that happens with instructors during that time is beneficial. I think that definitely the sharing of ideas. What’s your pool is doing versus what I can do. The opportunity to refine skit, to refine their lifeguarding skills making sure that they are oriented to what the latest research is saying and in lifeguard training. I think all of those are benefits for the Lifeguard instructors. They’d see it is an inconvenience. I see it as a benefit.

Eric: Right which makes sense from the angle that you look at it from?

Marrick: Yes.

Eric: You know, so what does it take to become a lifeguard instructor?

Marrick: You have to be 17 years old?

Eric: Okay.

Marrick: And you have to possess a current lifeguarding certification. And then you’re eligible to take the class. You have to pass some pre-course scenarios, you have to do an online two-hour orientation and then the lifeguarding instructor class is 22 hours. Just under 22 hours where they have to demonstrate the teaching of the material to their fellow instructor, candidates.

Eric: 22 hours over how long?

Marrick:  It’s a 22-hour in-person section. So, however, that setup is set up. I do it. I do Friday night Saturday and Sunday a lot, as I travel across the state doing these classes.

Eric: Catch this. So probably people get it done in five-six weeks?

Marrick: They do, they actually do it over a weekend.

Eric: Oh the whole thing. They just do one shot?

Marrick: One shot over a weekend.  It’s intense. But by the time they’ve survived. I joke by the time they’ve survived the class. They know what they’re doing. They’re on the way.

Eric: It’s cool. So one weekend and they’re good to go teach other people how to be lifeguards.

Marrick: Yes, they’re good to teach everybody has a lifeguard. They can also teach first aid and CPR with some additional online bridging. So they can teach; a lifeguard instructor is more valuable for a facility than any other instructorship because they have the ability to teach the first aid and CPR components with an additional bridging online orientation to the materials. So that’s a benefit for any facility who’s looking to hire someone.

Eric: And these certifications are they regulated? One of the questions that you sent was; that as an employer how do I know that certifications that are given are valid? Is that a problem?

Marrick: That is a problem. If you look at a lifeguard certification, it has the squares the QR code, so you can scan it to know that they’re valid because certifications especially in New York, you have to have your CPR every single year. That’s state health code law, so by scanning the QR code, you can validate if the course was actually a valid American Red Cross course. As opposed to someone creating a certification because they couldn’t find a course.

Eric: Got you. So does that happen often where people kind of fabricate their own certificate?

Marrick:  That’s an issue. It has been an issue in the land of lifeguarding for a while because of how everything is computer generated. That is why the American Red Cross want with those with the QR codes once they went to digital certifications. So that the code for the courses can be tracked and I as a potential employer can validate as one who taught that class and two when the class was done and exactly what certifications they do have.

Eric:  So to become an instructor trainer what’s involved in that?

Marrick: To become an instructor trainer, you have to have it’s not the same procedure that I went through 20 years ago.

Eric: Right?

Marrick: You have to have taught so many courses. And I don’t know what the exact number is and then you go to a training academy. For four days of intensive Aquatic Lifeguarding training. And they do model practice teachings as they play the role of the instructor. They do model practice teachings as the candidates are playing the role of the instructor trainer.

So it’s intense. I’ve talked to several who have gone through it. They’ve survived it. But that is the requirement for the American Red Cross right now. To become an instructor trainer.

Eric: And what about ongoing education?

Marrick: Ongoing education, the American Red Cross has access to webinars that you can watch. It’s important that you get to be a part of as an instructor trainer and a network of other instructor trainers. So you have that collegial collegiality aspect, where you’re able to ask a question, that you may not know the answer to or just run something past someone. In Upstate New York, one of the things that I did before they change the process to become an instructor trainer is I mentored a lot of people to become an instructor trainer.

And so I’m on the speed dial of many of those instructor trainers right now answering those questions, which is completely fine answering the questions solving some problems. So it’s all good.

Eric:  It sounds like a good Network. And I’m sure, I know and I get quiz and stuff like that, It keeps my brain sharp.

Marrick: Well, yes and you may dig into something that you know, they’re asking a specific question and I might not necessarily know the answer to it, but it gets me digging into the information a little more to refine my skills as well and my knowledge.

Eric: So when it comes to regular people in their homes, and their backyard their backyard pools, what kind of safety equipment do you think people should have?

Marrick: Well, the first and foremost would be a shepherd’s crook. A shepherd’s crook is a long pole that looks like a level of the letter J. And the reason for that is because your shepherd’s crook being on the long pole if your pool is deeper than you are you can, grab onto that person with the J hook and drag that person to the shallow end where it’s safer for you to get in the water and touch them. If you’re not a certified lifeguard shallow water lifeguard or aquatic attraction lifeguard, you should not be getting in the water that’s in over your head. Period so by having that tool you can drag the victim to the shallow water where you can then provide any care CPR, first aid that they need. The other issue is a rescue tube. It’s a long red tube and it floats three adults, it’s about $50 depending on where you got it, and it’s a great tube to be able to help individuals if they’re having floating issues, if they’re conscious then you can they have the ability to grab onto something they can grab onto to that tube.

Eric: Great, which you know, I think those things are important and I’m not sure I know a lot of people who have those.

Marrick: No. I teach for the local area resource center and in their backyard pools, that’s those two pieces of equipment are what’s apart of their training and the purpose of that is because not everybody is going to be a lifeguard. But if you if you’re given the tools to be able to have those and you’re not putting yourself at risk like with a shepherd’s crook.  Then you can provide the care that you want to provide or that you have the desire to provide, but you’re also not hurting or putting yourself at risk as well.

Eric: Right because the possibility of you, yourself drowning trying to save somebody is high?

Marrick: Yes, it’s very high.

Eric: It’s hard to save someone.

Marrick: Yes it was, yes it is, it’s very high. And me as a lifeguard that the rescue tube is the piece of equipment that I use to save someone. So if there by chance happens to be a lifeguard on your pool dock then by having that there, you would have the ability to grab that piece of equipment and then go save the person. But if you don’t have someone with lifeguarding credentials on that pool deck by grabbing the shepherd’s Crook and dragging the person to the shallow end when they’re in an area where you can get into the water and then, lift that person up to the shallow end of the pool, to the pool deck or do any kind of training one EMS personnel arrived.

Eric: You know, I’ve been hearing more and more about people hiring lifeguards for private parties, birthday parties, for events in their homes, which I always thought was a good idea. I thought that was a neat trend that I’ve been seeing is people literally hiring lifeguards, to monitor their pool events. Where without a lifeguard we would see these drownings with young kids so often. Right?  Where everyone thinks someone else is watching. You have that part of the psychological diffusion of responsibility that occurs, where you know, you don’t have an assigned water watcher and, dad thinks mom is watching and mom thinks Aunt Joe is watching and you know, you have someone slip into unattended and drown. So I like this idea of having a lifeguard on hand for these parties. Have you been noticing this, and do you have any thoughts about that?

Marrick:  I think honestly that it’s a really good idea.

Eric: Yes.

Marrick: So that way there’s one person who’s designated on doing it. If you have the rescue tube is mandated and not every lifeguard has their own personal rescue tube. So that’s so that will be a challenge because they really don’t know how to rescue anyone unless they have it without a piece of equipment, and that rescue tube is was is vital into that. I do recommend if you’re having a party and you have young kids that definitely is an awesome idea to be able to have that.

I know if you. If you have a lifeguard living in the house, and you have a pool many insurance companies will give you discounts on homeowners insurance because you have a certified lifeguard living in the house. So definitely any time when you have a pool when you have a certified lifeguard, you’re creating a safe environment for your swimmers.

Eric: That’s awesome. Well, is there anything else you want to let people know as we wrap up here any piece of advice or information or wisdom?

Marrick: Making sure definitely you’re on the fence business, making sure that that you’re having the pool fences, the self-locking pool gates, the forefoot fences, and making sure you have equipment that’s available to you on the pool deck so that if God forbid an emergency arises you have the ability to act. I remember, having grown up on a farm with my mom, I went headfirst in a piece of farm machinery, and if my mom didn’t know, CPR she has said to me on multiple occasions that if she had to stand there and watch me in that piece of Machinery without knowing what to do that would have been the worst time of her life. So by having those pieces of equipment there, you’re helping to save the lives of those who are swimming at your pool and your loved ones.

Eric: It makes good sense and I like the idea of you know, people getting certified to be a lifeguard, just for the insurance benefits and because this is good information to have. It makes a lot of sense. So.

Marrick: And if you have [inaudible 48:29] hopefully if you have a backyard pool definitely take the home pool Essentials class at the American Red Cross and the national swimming pool Foundation created that course goes through all of the things that you should have as a pool homeowner, and it’s very informative.

I learned things when I went through it. So someone who’s been in the business learning things as I went through it. A couple of months ago. It’s definitely a course to be taking.

Eric:  Where can people find that course?

Marrick: You can find it on the Red Cross website or the national swimming pool Foundation website.

Eric: And is there a fee associated with it?

Marrick: I believe it’s a $20 fee.

Eric: Okay, but not bad.

Marrick: That’s not bad to go through, how to run the pool chemicals. What your safety equipment should look like. That kind of thing. So it’s good.

Eric:  If someone five and up wants to have their child learn to swim or just swim instruction. How can they reach the Red Cross and you know to sign their kids up if they’re in Utica? How do they find you?

Marrick: How do they find me? They find me on Upstate Aquatics.com.

Eric:  Okay.

Marrick: There’s a link there with my email address and my phone number so they can call me there. As far as learning to swim program look at your local aquatic facilities in your area. Your local schools wise, JCC’s that kind of they all have aquatic learning programs that are happening. I am a girl who likes to be proactive and taking swimming lessons is definitely a life skill and being proactive to save your child’s life.

Eric: Yeah, we often say that swimming is the only sport that you learned, that could save your life.

Marrick: Correct it is yes, definitely.

Eric: I think it’s pretty cool. Yeah, I don’t see anybody, you know learning life-saving techniques by playing football, maybe you never know. But maybe not, you know.

Marrick: Yeah, I won’t be going there.

Eric: Are you running really fast, you know? Perfect. Thank you so much Marrick. I really appreciate it. This is awesome and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Marrick: You too.

Eric: Yes.

Marrick: Enjoy your Thanksgiving without snow

Eric: Yes. It’s gonna be awesome. I’m excited.

Marrick: I will have snow you won’t.

Eric: Yeah lucky us. Maybe I’m sure somebody is happy about your snow, but I am not one of them.

Marrick: I’m not one of them either but it’s okay.

Eric: You can just come down here to Florida, I was outside in the sun before we started doing this. It was about 80 degrees.

Marrick: So I’m a little jealous as it’s snowing this morning. Yeah, the roads are a little covered.

Eric:  That’s awesome.

Marrick:  It’s awesome. It’s awesome.

Eric: Wait, snow it’s beautiful out here. I don’t believe that [inaudible 51:21].

Marrick: I’ll send you some pictures when it’s really beautiful.

Eric: There you go.

Marrick: Right after the pristine snow in the morning with the sun reflecting off it. Yeah, it’s gorgeous.

Eric: Yes, through a window, not outside?

Marrick: Really, definitely?

Eric: Perfect. Well, thank you very much.

Marrick: You’re welcome and have a great day.