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Our Lifeguards: more than a lifesaver

03 April, 2014   Phoon Jia Hui

Lifeguard and kids

The role of our lifeguards has evolved over the years and they are now more than just a lifesaver. (Photo by ActiveSG)


“Having to search for a missing tooth in the pool, and help a tourist to locate her brother after a swim.”


As strange as these may sound, they are just some of the requests lifeguards Tan Chin Hoe and Daniel Chua have faced as part of their duties at the Jurong East Swimming Complex.


While their main responsibility is to ensure safety, ‘save lives and help people who need guidance’ as Chua (below) describes, there have been instances where they had to do something outside of their main job scope. 


Lifeguard Daniel Chia
Lifeguard Daniel Chua (Photo by VoxSports)


“There was one evening when we were about to end our shift at around 9.05pm and this uncle approached me, telling me that he had lost his fake tooth at the Lazy River,” Chua recalls vividly.

“I then informed the rest of the lifeguards and looked around, including at the Wave Pool for the tooth. We searched near the cave and took about 45 minutes to about an hour before finding the tooth that belongs to him so one of us went into the water to pick it up.

“He felt very happy and so he filled up the feedback form, saying that we were very helpful.”

For Tan (below), 50, the request he got was slightly different. 

Senior lifeguard tan chin hoe

Senior Lifeguard Tan Chin Hoe (Photo by VoxSports)


“I remember we had a pair of siblings who came to Singapore for a few days and stayed in their friend’s house nearby so they came here to swim,” the senior lifeguard shared.

“When she [the elder sister] was finally done with her shower and was prepared to leave, she found out that she could not find her brother. Since the pool was already closed, she requested for our help to find him.

Scrambling to get the lights switched on, Tan and his colleagues combed through the area to no avail before further checks revealed that her brother had actually returned home on his own.

While others will lament how the search was a waste of time, Tan feels that he is duty-bound to ensure the safety of pool users no matter the circumstances.

“Although the whole process meant that we went back later, we will want to help because safety is at stake here and we will do our best to help as cases like this are bound to happen.”

On top of that, the Sport Singapore (formerly known as Singapore Sports Council) servant of nearly 30 years subsequently revealed that he has had to make several sacrifices so as to ensure the swimmers’ spirits are not dampened due to reasons like improper attire.

“I won’t say it’s a funny request, but sometimes they might not bring the proper attire and we would suggest to them that if they don’t mind, they can borrow ours. Sometimes it can be a swimming trunk or even a swimsuit,” Tan said.

With the launch of the weekly Wet and Wacky Games at selected swimming complexes, lifeguards now have a platform to interact with guests in a more informal manner. 

creative float

Lifeguards now have a platform to interact with guests in a more informal manner. (Photo by ActiveSG)



“In the past, lifeguards will only look after the security and safety and we hardly had any chance to interact with the guests,” Malcon Toh, a lifeguard at the Jurong West Swimming Complex shares.

“But now, Sport Singapore has given us a chance to actually engage the guests and bring more fun to the facility.

“At Jurong West, we now have this weekly game station known as ‘Wet and Wacky’. We have two sessions in the morning and afternoon every Sunday and the lifeguards will actually go down into the water, engage and have fun with the guests.”

Toh continued: “I think it’s good because in the past lifeguards only had to just train themselves to be well-versed in CPR and AED to perform their jobs.

“Now it opens the door to let the public know that we can actually do other things as well, not only lifeguarding and also what it is all about. It’s not only looking after pool security, we can multi-task and do other things as well.

“Being a lifeguard is not only a lifesaver but we have to multitask like in other jobs so it will progress into a new era,” he concluded.

The acts of going beyond their call of service speaks volume of the transition a lifeguard role has undergone.

As opposed to the tradition of being merely guardians of the pool, Tan and Chua both exemplifies how the role of a lifeguard has transcended beyond that of a lifesaver and evolved into one with a more human touch that everyone should aspire to replicate. 


Lifeguard and kids
The role of a lifeguard has transcended beyond that of a lifesaver and evolved into one with a more human touch. (Photo by ActiveSG)


The lifeguards will also be involved in something meaningful that SportCares is organising with Yio Chu Kang Sports Centre. They will be conducting a water safety talk for the beneficiaries who will be attending the Young Mentors Programme during their two-day holiday camp.

To become a certified lifeguard however, it is not as easy as it seems.

First, one has to enrol for a foundation Lifesaving 1, 2, 3 courses followed by Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Bronze Medallion courses.

Upon completion of the latter two courses, the trainee will then graduate as a lifesaver and he or she will be able to work as a Professional Lifeguard in swimming pools.

Get a chance to meet and get to know our lifeguards better at the upcoming ActiveSG open houses happening from 26 April onwards!

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