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Fitness Standards for Lifeguards: The Surf Lifeguard Pre-Employment Test


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Author: Carl Martinez

Published in: Sports, Health & Medicine
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Fitness Standards for Lifeguards: The Surf Lifeguard Pre-Employment Test

  1. 1. SURF – LIFEGUARD PREEMPLOYMENT TEST By Carl Martinez U.S. DOI / National Park Service Gateway National Recreation Area
  2. 2. PURPOSE IS TO SHOW: <ul><li>Why Dr. Cooper’s “aerobics” research findings were used to set test’s timed-run and timed-swim standards. </li></ul><ul><li>How test’s timed-swim standard served as basis for two national-consensus, timed-swim standards. </li></ul><ul><li>Why, till now, test has been favored over alternatives. </li></ul>
  3. 3. TWO BASIC CONCERNS <ul><li>Visitor safety. </li></ul><ul><li>Equality of competitive opportunity. </li></ul>
  4. 4. TEST CONTENT <ul><li>Endurance swim. </li></ul><ul><li>Speed rescue. </li></ul><ul><li>Underwater swim. </li></ul><ul><li>Escapes. </li></ul><ul><li>Endurance run. </li></ul>
  5. 5. SURF – LIFEGUARD WORK REQUIRES: <ul><li>Mental ability to respond promptly and appropriately. </li></ul><ul><li>Speed, strength, and stamina. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge both job-specific and site-specific. </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to apply that knowledge under stressful conditions without danger to oneself—nor to those relying on one’s help. </li></ul>
  6. 6. YARDSTICK WAS RESEARCH – BASED <ul><li>Dr. Cooper developed research-based yardsticks termed “aerobic points.” </li></ul><ul><li>Claimed to have field-tested, by 1970, more than 30,000 men and women. </li></ul><ul><li>Claimed one’s ability to run 1 ½ miles in under 12 minutes better indicated one’s potential endurance capacity vs. 1-mile run in under 6 or 7 minutes. </li></ul><ul><li>Running 1½ miles in under 12 minutes netted one 7½ “aerobic points.” </li></ul><ul><li>So did swimming (overhand crawl) 600 yards in under 10 minutes. </li></ul>
  7. 7. EQUALITY OF COMPETITIVE OPPORTUNITY <ul><li>Task. </li></ul><ul><li>Conditions. </li></ul><ul><li>Criterion. </li></ul>
  8. 8. YES TO COOPER, NO TO RED CROSS <ul><li>Task. —Swim 500 yards continuously. </li></ul><ul><li>Conditions.—No objectively measurable conditions stated. </li></ul><ul><li>Criterion.—“Strong swimming skills are necessary for adequate performance of lifesaving skills. . . . Therefore . . . skills must be performed in a comfortable, relaxed, and efficient manner.” </li></ul>
  9. 9. GALVESTON CONFERENCE OF 1980 <ul><li>Attended by leading aquatic organizations in U.S.A. </li></ul><ul><li>Adopted timed-swim standard of 500 meters in 10 minutes or less. </li></ul><ul><li>Consensus on standard resulted from compromise. </li></ul><ul><li>Based on Gateway and Red Cross swim standards. </li></ul><ul><li>Some basis in research because of Gateway standard. </li></ul>
  10. 10. U.S.L.A. AND N.P.S. ADOPT STANDARD <ul><li>U.S.L.A. adopts timed-swim standard in 1984. </li></ul><ul><li>N.P.S. adopts entire test in 1986. </li></ul>
  11. 11. TEST FAVORED OVER ALTERNATIVES <ul><li>Work environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Level of service. </li></ul><ul><li>Workforce diversity. </li></ul><ul><li>Meet and maintain standards. </li></ul>
  12. 12. ANNUAL REVIEW <ul><li>Keep test content current. </li></ul><ul><li>Have test reflect what leading surf-lifeguard practitioners deem applicable and appropriate. </li></ul>
  13. 13. MERITING THE PUBLIC TRUST <ul><li>Seek to provide excellent service. </li></ul><ul><li>Readily acknowledge that not dealing with an exact science. </li></ul><ul><li>Err on the side of prudence. </li></ul><ul><li>Practice “precautionary principle” —“better safe than sorry.” </li></ul>