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Sarah Chmielewski


Lifeguard White Marsh/Fullerton Family YMCA

Age: 19

Years in business: This is her fifth season.

Salary: She makes between $9 and $12 an hour for duties as a lifeguard, teacher and coach.

How she started: She used to go with a friend to the White Marsh/Fullerton Family YMCA to swim. She also swam on its swim team as well as the one at her high school, the Polytechnic Institute, in Baltimore. "I was always interested in the water. I've always been a swimmer. So it seemed like a good summer job for me."

Extracurriculars: Chmielewski teaches swimming classes at the YMCA. She also coaches its swim team, which includes about 40 swimmers, ages 6 through 17.

Typical day during peak season: Four days a week she starts the day at 8:45 a.m. and teaches until noon. She lifeguards until about 5 p.m. and then teaches and coaches through 9 p.m. On Fridays, she works 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and coaches until 9 p.m. Swim meets are held on Saturdays, and Chmielewski will also lifeguard on weekends, only taking off one shift - usually noon to 4 p.m. - during the week. As a lifeguard, she takes 30-minute shifts in the chairs watching over swimmers. Down time is spent making sure the facility - including its bathrooms and pavilions - are clean.

Certifications: Chmielewski has her lifeguard certification, CPR/First Aid and is trained on the automated external defibrillator. For teaching and coaching she has her water safety instructor certification and also took a coaching class at York College.

The good: "When you are sitting in the chair and you see somebody you taught how to swim swimming."

The bad: "When you have a big, giant group and all day you're telling them to stay off the ropes, to walk and to do this, do this, do this."

Saves made: None so far this year. In 2004, there were four people saved during the season and she saved two of them. One was a woman who couldn't swim and found herself too far into the deep end. The second involved a young boy who got in over his head.

What she does during the off-season: Chmielewski is a biology major at York College of Pennsylvania - she wants to be an environmental marine biologist when she graduates. She continues to lifeguard about once a week at school. During breaks, she lifeguards at the Towson Family YMCA.

Biggest misconception about the job: "That it's not a real job. It's a very hard job. You have to sit up in those chairs paying attention while the sun is baking you, and peoples' lives are in your hands."

Philosophy on the job: "Make sure everybody is safe and make sure anything that could go wrong doesn't."

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