NAME: EMILIE BOULERNE

YEARS LIFEGUARDING: 6

LOCATION(S): QUEBEC, CANADA

Hi! My name is Emilie and I have been a lifeguard for 6 years now in Quebec, Canada (4 years with Arrondissement Verun, Ville de Montréal) and 3 years with Université de Sherbrooke). I just love the water so much it was inevitable for me to become a lifeguard. After failing the first course to become a lifeguard, I discovered lifesaving sport which really helped me to become the best lifeguard I could be. After six years in the sport, I even made the national team for the Commonwealth Festival of Lifesaving in Leeds, En!

In all my time as a lifeguard so far, I only took part in one big rescue on a man who was in a lot of pain but didn’t know how he hurt his head… So we decided to treat him as a spinal injury and send him on his way to the hospital. On that day, I really understood why, as lifeguards, you need to be on the top of your game every minute you’re working : You never know what can happen so you always have to be ready for anything! If I only had one advice to other women looking to become a lifeguard, it would simply be to never give up. Even if you’re the only one believing in yourself, it doesn’t mean that you’re wrong, it only means you have plenty of people to prove wrong! So work hard and keep your head up and everything becomes possible!

I started swimming when I was around ten years old and, since then, never stopped being in the water. When I was fifteen, I wanted to become a lifeguard. At first, it was to do like my older brother who is also a lifeguard and just because I was surrounded by lifeguards as many friends of mine also basically grew up in a pool so it was kind of obvious that this was what I would do. But it soon became more than just a job…

In fact, I actually failed my first class (Bronze Medallion) in my quest to become a lifeguard. My instructor even told me that not everybody was meant to be a lifeguard and that it just might not be for me… But everyone that I know would agree to say I am a little stubborn and when I decide to do something, I will, and I can work very hard just to prove someone wrong…

So that’s basically what I did! So I decided to join a lifesaving sport team and worked very hard on my first aid skills… And one year later, I officially succeeded to complete all the formations in order to become a lifeguard. But little did I know that was just the beginning of a long journey that was ahead of me…

In fact, just one year after failing the first lifeguarding class, I took part in my first lifesaving sport competition… and with my parter, we won bronze! After two years, I decided to switch from SERC which is mainly first aid situations that you, with your team mates, have to respond to, to pool lifesaving sport, which has more of a swimming aspect and you basically just have to go fast! I also started surf lifesaving which is a combination of run, swim, surf ski and board races.

A few years of hard work later, I have won three provincial champs overall titles in a row and came in third position at my third participation at nationals… and earned a spot on the national team heading to the Commonwealth Festival of Lifesaving in Leeds, England. It was a really big accomplishment for me as I had a lot of struggle just to complete the courses in order to become a lifeguard to begin with, but I was also very proud of all the hard work I had put in to this and found this international experience very exciting.

In my years as a lifeguard, I only had one big rescue where I had to put my skills into action. Just about two hours before closing the pool for the day, a man came to the lifeguard’s room holding his head and just basically saying that he was in a lot of pain. He was really confused and didn’t know what happened, so we decided to take the most precautions that we could and treat him as a spinal injury as we didn’t know if he hit his head or not.

We called an ambulance and the man went to the hospital. The next day, he came back to thank us. The doctors never found what was wrong with him but he was looking a lot better than the day before for sure. I think that, on this day, I really understood that our job is important as even if you only have one rescue in you  career, you will have helped and possibly saved someone’s life and being on the top of your game can definitely come in handy because you never know when you will have to put your skills into action so you have to be ready all the time.

So in regards of my story of becoming a lifeguard, if I had only one advice to give to other women looking to become lifeguards too, it would simply be to never give up. Even if you’re the only one believing in yourself, it doesn’t mean that you’re wrong, it only means you have plenty of people to prove wrong! So work hard and keep your head up and everything becomes possible!

Images Provided by Emilie Boulerne.