Senior lifeguard looking after the crew that keeps the pool safe

May 6, 2021

Ben Dalloway is a senior pool lifeguard at the CBay Aquatic Centre in Timaru, with a passion for the recreation sector, and a desire to be a leader in his industry.

Ben started as a lifeguard three years ago, and has been in a senior role for much of the time since. As a facility-in-charge lifeguard, he manages between five and 13 staff members during his shifts, and his job covers everything from making sure customers are safe, happy and enjoying their time at the pool, to overseeing the water quality, liaising between managers and staff, and training new and existing lifeguards.

“I think that the coolest thing about being a lifeguard is seeing people’s lives change,” says Ben.

“You are constantly meeting new people who are developing themselves in some way - whether they are at the pool for physio, or to become a better swimmer, or they’re spending time with their families.

“It’s cool to be part of that journey with people, build relationships, and see people flourish through the services that we provide in this industry.”

Ben decided to take on a new challenge in 2020 and enrolled in the Skills Active Senior Pool Lifeguard apprenticeship.

“When you’re doing the everyday things over and over again, your work life can become quite stagnant. But the opportunity to do the apprenticeship gave me a fresh perspective.

“It has helped with talking to customers, leading a team, and promoting our role as lifeguards. In fact that’s one of the projects – taking a closer look at what we do and how it helps people.”

Ben says he is always conscious of the dual responsibilities of a leader, to maintain a good work environment for the team, and deliver a high level of service – in this case the vital service of keeping pool users safe.

“You have to find a balance between treating your staff well and making sure they are happy in their jobs, while also being high-quality employees and overseers of the people that are coming in. As long as you communicate well, it’s possible to get that balance,” Ben says.

“I really love people, and I love leadership,” he adds, “so I think this qualification will really help me not just in aquatics, but in recreation in general – in any management role either at CBay or somewhere else.”

Ben has a clear vision of how he will put his experience and his Skills Active qualification to good use. In five years, he would like to be either in management at CBay or having moved across to the recreation team at the Council – or working in another industry connected to recreation.

To any others in the recreation industry considering some further education, he can’t recommend it enough.

“If you are considering taking that leap, just do it! It’s a great opportunity and you can never go wrong with learning new things.”

Returning to his theme of balance, Ben says his top tip for completing an on-job qualification is never to underestimate the power of taking time to recharge.

“As apprentices, we need to make sure that we find time to rest and be smart. I think a lot of the time we can feel really pressured, but there are some key things in our lives that we should always prioritise. As long as you do those well – sleeping well, eating well, exercising, having leisure time – then you are better equipped to do pretty much anything you put your mind to.”