Freeport lifeguards dive into action


As the summer season in Freeport cools down, the Freeport Recreation Center’s aquatics coordinator, Tom Arena, and his team of lifeguards have been hard at work ensuring the safety of swimmers across the community’s pools.

Arena, who holds the title of head lifeguard but operates more as an aquatic’s coordinator, oversees the operation of four pools in Freeport. All summer, the team of lifeguards, reflective of the diversity within Freeport, has been working diligently to keep these pools safe for residents and visitors alike.

The Freeport Recreation Center’s aquatics program is not just about watching over swimmers; it’s a comprehensive training and preparedness effort. Before the summer season kicks into high gear, Arena and his team conduct preseason and in-house training sessions. These sessions cover everything from rules and regulations to practicing various medical emergencies, including spinal backboards, water extractions, CPR, and the Heimlich maneuver. They also focus on different types of water rescues, preparing lifeguards for any situation they might encounter, be it in deep or shallow water.

“It’s a large training season,” Arena said. “But it doesn’t end there. During the summer season, we conduct daily drills and mock saves to keep our lifeguards sharp and prepared for any emergencies that may arise.”

Arena emphasizes that lifeguarding is a full-time job during the summer months, with no volunteers. Lifeguards are paid professionals who play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of pool-goers. They work closely with emergency response teams, including EMT workers, firefighters, nurses, and police officers, often assisting in emergencies until specialized help arrives.

The goal, Arena states, is to practice “preventive lifeguarding,” which involves proactively identifying and addressing potential safety hazards. Lifeguards keep a vigilant eye on swimmers, ensuring they follow pool rules and act safely. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of accidents and injuries, a testament to the lifeguards’ dedication and diligence.

Freeport’s diverse lifeguard team, primarily comprised of individuals living within a five-mile radius, showcases the community’s unity.

“The wonderful thing about Freeport Rec is the diversity and how well everyone gets along here,” Arena said. “We are a team, and when emergencies happen, we’re all on the same page.”

The summer swimming season in Freeport typically extends through September, depending on weather conditions and lifeguard availability.