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The Dart: Natchez teen keeping swimmers safe at pool

 

NATCHEZ — When Zuri Brown is on the job, she is always ready for a rescue.

When The Dart landed behind Chester Willis Field on Liberty Road, Brown was keeping swimmers safe at the Natchez community swimming pool.

Brown is a lifeguard at the pool and shares the job with ten other lifeguards. Three guards work the pool at one time, with at least one guard on duty for every 15-minute shifts. Depending on the crowds, more than one lifeguard will be on duty at a time.

During her shift, Brown keeps her eyes on the water, watching for possible signs of swimmers in distress.

“You have to make sure you are scanning and surveying the pool at all times,” Brown said. “You have to tell the difference  between who is drowning and who is not drowning.”

Brown is in her second year of lifeguarding at the pool. She became certified last June after taking one of the lifeguard courses offered at the pool last year.

“It is all about surveying and keeping your eyes open,” Brown said. “I notice when everybody’s head goes under water, and I wait to see when their heads come up. “

Determining when a swimmer needs to be rescued can be difficult and comes with experience, Brown said.

“I was nervous at first,” Brown said about her first days on the job after being certified. “When I first came back from class, I started seeing all of these examples of swimmers who you think might need to be rescued. But they are not really drowning.”

“It is scary to start seeing that you have to get used to it.”

Brown said she is always on alert for panicked swimmers.

“A panicked swimmer can quickly become a submerged victim under water,” Brown said.

Soon to be a junior at the Natchez Early College Academy, Brown said she hopes to become a family and marriage counselor.

“I like to help people I see in need. I know not everyone comes from the best family.”

Brown said she is thankful that she hasn’t had to use her lifeguard skills to rescue anyone from the pool yet. The job can get boring at times when the pool is mostly empty.

“It can get hot and sweaty,” Brown said. “I drink lots of water and stay alert.”

And when she is off duty, Brown cools off by doing what she truly enjoys.

“Sometimes when I am off, I swim,” Brown said.