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Lifeguard candidates train to protect

The YMCA this week is conducting a lifeguard training course to prepare 13 candidates to protect the lives of those that will enjoy the pool facilities this summer.

Starting the training course on Monday evening with the qualifying swim drills, the diverse group, ranging in age from 15 to 34 swam a total of 500 yards, in batteries of all strokes: free-style, back, breast, side and butterfly.

"If they can pass the first round in the pool, then the course is all downhill," said Lifeguard Instructor Justin Rogers. "They were all able to make it without any problems-they are definitely determined."

Once the first swim drills were completed, they candidates performed dive drills to retrieve a weighted object from the bottom of the deep end of the pool.

Having completed the dive drills, they all dried off and went into the classroom for instruction in techniques, before practicing the hands-on training.

"No matter if you know the people in the water or not, you have to separate yourself from them emotionally," Rogers said. "While you are on-duty, you are here strictly to do your job-protect many lives."

Two of the candidates are Greenville Firefighters, learning first-hand to perform water rescues.

"I haven't swam this much in many years," said Firefighter Jimmy Boswell, 34, a former member of the 82nd Airborne. "This is hard work."

Along with Boswell, Firefighter Tommy Butts is also in the course.

"This is something I have wanted to do for a long time," said Butts.

Coming from as far as McKenzie and Fort Deposit, the candidates will all have jobs as lifeguards once they have completed the course.

"As long as they make it through, and I seriously believe they all will complete the course, they will all be qualified lifeguards, according to the American Red Cross," said Rogers.

The candidates are: Allison Reid,15; Brittney Ingalls, 15; Daniel Branum, 15; Ashley Branum, 16; Heather Wyatt, 16; Elizabeth Chastain, 16; Hope Gibson, 16; Kayla Nolan, 16; Michael Hollyfield, 17; Meredith Mosley, 18; Todd Simmons, 18; Tommy Butts, 30; Jimmy Boswell, 34.

Reid is from McKenzie and Nolan is from Fort Deposit; the rest of the group is from Greenville.

"I would have to say that we have more children here at the YMCA, between the daycare program and the pool, then anywhere else in the county," said Tim Dunsford, director of the Greenville YMCA. "We will easily have 200-250 each day, all summer long."