They’re more than the people with the red whistles. Lifeguards at Richmond city pools are certified by the American Red Cross. They’re trained in surveillance skills, water and land rescue, first aid, CPR, and more. Meet some of the lifeguards of Battery Park and Randolph Pools.
Randolph Pool, 1401 Grayland Avenue
Ebony Hubbard, 25, Southside
Ebony has been a lifeguard for eleven years, working at Randolph Pool the entire time. Although she’s originally from Southside and still lives there, she says, “My supervisor firmly believes in not putting the worker in the same neighborhood that they’re from, so they’re exposed to other environments.” Last month, she earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from Norfolk State University and will soon be looking for a career in her field.
“I was an original Richmond Racer. We started swimming when we were about four years old, joining the team at 6 or 7. [The Racers] were created to be an urban swim team, to have a program for young black youth to learn how to swim. We all keep up with each other. A lot of them are still lifeguards with the City of Richmond. I’ve known Yvonne for about 13 years.”
“I like to watch movies, shop, sew and read. I make pillows, blankets, anything that’s arts and crafty.”
“I love lifeguarding, I love working with kids. I like working with the staff, the community, as well as the visiting patrons. I hope to continue this if I can, even after I get a [year-round] job. The City of Richmond proudly serves the patrons of this city with nine city public pools that carry all certified Red Cross lifeguards.”
“I’m a water baby. I’ll be taking a vacation in December to the British Virgin Islands for about two weeks.”
Yvonne Libron, 25, Forest Hill
Like Ebony, Yvonne is an original Richmond Racer and has worked summers as a lifeguard for eleven years. She graduated two years ago from Delaware State University with a degree in Mass Communications. Today, she works year-round at Channel 6 and Radio One.
“I used to win all the medals. Butterfly’s my favorite stroke. I’m very competitive. I like to bowl. I like swimming, basketball, shooting pool.”
“I like interacting with kids, knowing that years later, they’ll remember me. It’s all about the kids, man.”
“Even though it’s a nice summer job to have, it also is a very responsible job. You have to be able to think on your feet, to be aware and alert at all times. I had a close call today. The most frightening one was when I was working at another pool. There was a girl at the extreme other part of the pool and I had to dive in and save her.”
Ronald Terrell Hodges, Jr. “T.J” 22 years old, Southside
As a junior at Virginia State University, T.J. is studying Agriculture with a concentration in Business Economics. He’s been a lifeguard for three years, although he says, “I’ve been swimming all my life.” He’s the only swimmer in his family of two brothers and one sister. He’s a member of Phi Beta Sigma, Inc.
“My mother, father, and my uncle all used to work at Randolph Pool together. My mother and my father actually met at this pool. Now I’m a proud employee of the same pool.”
“I don’t date anybody I meet at the pool. You’ve got to keep your work life and your personal life separate.”
“Your first year I can say that the majority of lifeguards are probably pretty scared because they don’t understand what’s going to go on. You’ve never been involved in a real life situation. After you’ve been a lifeguard for a couple of years, it’s kind of second nature to do what you’ve got to do when that time comes. My heart beats ten times faster when I see a little kid getting ready to jump into the pool.”
“I like fishing and hunting. I go hunting in Surry County or Gloucester County. For fishing, I go to Virginia Beach, Newport News, or Petersburg. My last big vacation was in December, I went to Las Vegas. I went to Bike Week in Myrtle Beach too.”
“I’m a hip hop enthusiast. My favorite is Nas. Put a period behind that.”
“People come to the pool and they see us relaxing and they think it’s an easy job. But a lot of people who think they can do it, can honestly not do it. The class was tough for me, the class was tough for a lot of lifeguards. Once you get here, you’ve got a hundred kids in the pool, you’ve got to make sure all of them get home safe and go home to see their mothers. I want people to realize the responsibility that you face when you’re a lifeguard.”
“I’m the coach of the Randolph Swimming Pool Swim Team. Basically each one of the city pools collects kids from the neighborhood and it’s a free experience for the kids. They get to learn how to swim. Then the first Saturday in August, we have a swim meet here at Randolph Swimming Pool. About a million kids come to the pool and they all participate during the swim meet. They get free pizza and Gatorade and I’m the coach. We do it every year. I was the coach last year and my team did really well.”
Joseph LeRoy Washington, 21, Northside
Joseph lived on North Avenue for eighteen years. His family just bought a new house a few blocks from his childhood home. As a competitive swimmer, his favorite stroke was the butterfly. In 2005, he graduated from Franklin Military Academy. In August, he’ll begin training for the Richmond Fire Department. One of his three brothers is also a lifeguard, working at a YMCA.
“I’ve been a security officer for three years. Just being young, [I like] showing some of the other guys in the neighborhood, the black youth, that there are other options that you can take. [College] is not for everybody. I feel like I’ve been successful just like the person who went to school by applying myself.”
Kindra Hill, 16, Bon Air
Kindra goes to Thomas Jefferson High School. She is applying to University of Virginia and hopes to study Astronomy.
“I basically look up to these guys. I learn from all of the veteran lifeguards. Whenever I need help with something, I ask one of them. They’re a really good influence with how I act with the patrons.”
Charz Robinson, 17, Southside in Cherry Gardens
Charz attends Thomas Jefferson High School. After graduation, he wants to open a business, or study engineering.
“I’ve been lifeguarding for three years. This is my second year working for the City of Richmond. I really like lifeguarding. I hope I get to do it for as long as I possibly can. I really look up to the older lifeguards. They know how to give good advice.”
Stevon Warren, 15, Henrico
Stevon is enjoying her first season as a lifeguard. She attends high school and hopes to either become a cosmetologist, or science teacher.
“You meet new friends. My new friends become my second family. They teach me a lot and we joke around and have fun together. It’s fun work. You learn to adapt to new situations every day.”
Battery Park Pool, 2917 Dupont Circle
Jerrod Booker, 21, Richmond
A Senior at Norfolk State University, Jerrod returns home each summer to work as a lifeguard. He’s currently Head Lifeguard at Battery Park Pool. He learned to swim through the Boys & Girls Club and grew up in the same neighborhood he works today. His brother is also a lifeguard.
“I just love meeting the children, and getting to know the community well. I’ve been doing it for a while now, so I’ve seen a lot of the kids grow up. I like the environment, the people I work with.”
“We have Lifeguard training, AED training, CPR training. Then I myself have my water Safety Instructor Training, so I can teach swim lessons and conduct swim practices.”
“I’m not as mean as people always say I am. [He laughs.] It’s just that I’m here to make sure that they get home safely because I want them to get home and see whoever takes care of them and make sure their family stays whole.”
“I like swimming. I like stepping, and I also like reading and writing and music. I listen to all genres of music. I don’t limit myself. I think there’s a lot out there to learn from music books. I also want to go back and get my Master’s degree in History Education.”
“My parents love that I’m a lifeguard. My mother made sure that she got us in the water at an early age because she liked going to the beaches and to the different pools around the city when we were smaller.”