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In Phoenix, A New Quest For Diverse Public Pool Lifeguards
NPR ^ | 3/28/2013

Posted on 04/06/2013 11:58:37 AM PDT by Altura Ct.

After noticing that most of the lifeguards at the public pools used by Latino and African-American kids were white, the Phoenix aquatics department decided to try to recruit minorities.

More than 90 percent of the students at Alhambra High are black, Latino or Asian. On a recruiting effort there over the winter, the city's Melissa Boyle tells students she's not looking for strong swimmers. Like many under-resourced schools, Alhambra doesn't have a swim team.

"We will work with you in your swimming abilities," Boyle says.

Boyle's colleague Kelly Martinez takes on the delicate task of explaining the scenario the city is trying to correct.

"The kids in the pool are all either Hispanic or black or whatever, and every lifeguard is white," she says, "and we don't like that. The kids don't relate; there's language issues."

Martinez turns to a Latina student to her. "Do you speak Spanish?" she asks. "We need more lifeguards who can speak Spanish."

Competitive swimming still has a reputation as a white sport. And a national study released in 2010 found African-Americans and Latinos reported much lower swimming proficiency compared to whites.

"It's that catch-22," says Becky Hulett, who oversees Phoenix's public pools. "If the kids don't learn how to swim, as adults they are not going to swim, [and] they aren't going to take their own kids to swim."

So two years ago, Hulett began rethinking lifeguard . Traditionally, Phoenix's 500 lifeguards came from more affluent parts of town, most of which are farther from the public pools.

"It really populated from schools that had swim teams, and so that was our feeder into our lifeguarding programs," she says.

To help diversify its lifeguard ranks, the city raised about $15,000 over the past two years in scholarships to offset the cost of lifeguard-certification . Recruits who pass a swim test at the end can apply to be city lifeguards.

As the teens swim laps at Alhambra, it's clear many haven't had much formal training. But the coaches of the course aren't fazed and are prepared to put in the time to teach.

"Honestly, I have a little bit a fear of the water, and I wanted to overcome that fear," says high school junior Jesus Jimenez. He didn't grow up going to pools with his family but likes the idea of lifeguarding.

"It is nice to have the satisfaction of knowing that if somebody is in trouble you can save them at any time," he says.

If he is selected to be a lifeguard, other pool staff will work with him on his swimming skills all summer.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Mexico; US: Arizona
KEYWORDS: affirmativeaction; arizona; beckyhulett; kellymartinez; melissaboyle; mexico; phoenix; quotas
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To: elpadre
life guard certification requires both written and practical examination. If they no longer require certification then liability will become a major issue.

Hey, if some hack who knows how to bend a coat hanger just so... can perform an abortion to take a life, how much expertise does it take to save one.......

Now the not speaking Spanish or Ebonics part really worries me - if someone is taking on water and thrashing around, how is a lifeguard to understand that they are drowning if there's a language barrier like that???????

In stead of adding the "/s" tag, I'll see if it flies as satire....

61 posted on 04/07/2013 3:35:37 AM PDT by trebb (Where in the the hell has my country gone?)
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To: Monorprise
I suppose its possible that some racial groups tend to be drawn more towards sports than others. It could be a cultural or genetic difference.

The differences in bone density between blacks and whites has something to do with ease of floating.

62 posted on 04/07/2013 6:13:03 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 (You don't notice it's a police state until the police come for you.)
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To: Enterprise
And she should have been the one to point out that it is the responsibility of the parents to make sure their kids can swim and become lifeguards. It is NOT her responsibility to be a racist.

The left's fantacy of KKK members everywhere is nuts. It's led to good party members attempting to prove themselves by 'defending' blacks more than the next liberal. Climbing over each other to 'spot' victimhood... Reminds me of Biden claiming credit for saving blacks from being in chains. Big fat insane ego trip - and insulting to blacks at the same time. Seems liberal elite think of themselves as Grand Protectors of the savages or something. I'm amazed blacks keep these people in office.

63 posted on 04/07/2013 9:15:34 AM PDT by GOPJ (New AP term for Illegal Aliens IS Undocumented Democrats.... Jay Leno)
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To: PapaBear3625

Very interesting, I’ve always known that women could float better i assumed it was just because of their distribution of fat. But it seems bone density also has something to do with it.

64 posted on 04/07/2013 11:23:16 AM PDT by Monorprise (`)
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To: Monorprise

Women tend to have more fat, plus lower bone density. It makes them better able to float.

65 posted on 04/07/2013 12:13:38 PM PDT by PapaBear3625 (You don't notice it's a police state until the police come for you.)
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To: PapaBear3625

“Women tend to have more fat, plus lower bone density. It makes them better able to float.”

I suppose the question of why we don’t have more female life guards(only about 10% according to this aricle: ) is maybe the uper-body strength issue with carrying the dead weight of unconscious victims, or otherwise pulling them to shore.

Beyond that women are better long distant swimmers because they spend less energy staying afloat. But that doesn’t really help them if they have to keep someone else afloat as well, nor does it disadvantage men with the assistance of life jackets.

66 posted on 04/07/2013 12:44:31 PM PDT by Monorprise (`)
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To: Altura Ct.
How long before Robot-Americans demand their own piece of the action?

67 posted on 04/07/2013 12:51:37 PM PDT by x
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To: PapaBear3625
It's true that higher bone density makes you a "sinker", and that probably discourages some blacks from learning to swim.

BUT - I think it's primarily cultural, not bone density. Most guys tend to sink, as do women who are thin or have fairly heavy frames.

I was a champion sinker as a VERY skinny youngster and teenager, in fact I preferred to swim underwater because it was easier. I'm short with very broad shoulders and a lot of bone, sort of like a mountain pony. Even with the middle-aged spread of a 50ish matron, I still don't float well enough to keep my face free, unless I cram my lungs full of air and adopt the "drownproofing" posture.

But I had my Red Cross Lifeguard cert. by age 15, WSI by 18, just got my BSA cert a few years ago along with my daughter (who is also a natural sinker). It's because our family were always swimmers, boaters, water skiers, etc. and grew up on the water. I don't remember when I first learned to swim.

My daughter's roommate in college was a Latina from San Antonio. There was no culture of swimming where she grew up. She couldn't swim, had never swum, only learned because the college required it for graduation (a good idea in my opinion - GA Tech has had that requirement for years and so did my undergraduate college).

68 posted on 04/07/2013 1:05:04 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGS Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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