SANDY KAUFFMAN: MY AQUATICS LIFE

As most aquatics folks, I’ve been involved with water activities since childhood – Learned to swim in the Schyulkill River in Reading, PA, followed by lessons at the local “Y”, summers of boating and canoeing at Girl Scout Camp, earning Red Cross Junior and Senior Lifesaving, and Water Safety Instructor. I would have received “Exceeds” at pulling the victim (now GID: “Guest In Distress) on to the dock, and performing the “back pressure/arm lift” procedure while yelling “call the fire department”. There were no 911, EMS, CPR, O2, or AED options 50 years ago!

I met my future husband while lifeguarding at a summer community pool, during my college years. He coached the swim team, I taught the swim lessons. Later as a Navy family, we moved frequently, and I taught swim lessons at the military base pools.

Adapted Aquatics became my next area of interest. An intense motivational, and inspirational weeklong training at a camp in Michigan, was a turning point in the decision to continue my career in aquatics.

A move to Virginia provided a wonderful opportunity to teach swimming, adapted aquatics, lifeguard, and to coach age group and Masters swimmers. It was during this time that E&A entered the picture. Fairfax County Park Authority(FCPA) decided to partner with E&A to improve lifeguard training. FCPA had 8 year-round, indoor rec centers, and 2 outdoor pools (there are currently 9 centers, and one of the outdoor sites is now a water park). Jeff Ellis taught our first instructor class. I was hooked from the start, and so excited to train the staff at the site where I worked. Over the years, wonderful Ellis trainers have kept us updated, motivated, and determined to be the best. Jeff, Rac, Joe, Gilly, Jeremy, Melissa, and many others have been so helpful.

One of my biggest thrills, although I didn’t know it at the time, was being chosen by my employer to attend Safety School in Indianapolis, in 2000. Bogged down with problems where I worked, prepping for the busy swim meet season, managing staff shortages, and worrying about my first grandchild’s birth in a few weeks, I reluctantly flew to Indiana in the bitter cold of January. As soon as the other rep from FCPA and I checked in, and “dropped our egos in a box”, I knew we were in for a challenging experience. It was just what the doctor ordered, to turn my life around at that junction. I came home exhausted, exuberant, and totally committed to sharing the gained knowledge with anyone willing to listen and learn.

I’m a true believer in “make it work”, the “Golden Rule”, and “10/20”, and do my best to share that these “buzz words” are not just for the job of the lifeguard, but for our job of life.

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SANDY KAUFFMAN