The lifeguard is the symbol of aquatic safety for parents and children alike. Pool and beach goers from all over are advised to make sure a lifeguard is on duty before swimming. Unfortunately guard positions in the Richmond area have gone unfilled, and pools have been forced to close early.

Access describes the multiple obstacles to becoming a lifeguard; from location-availability to the costs of learning, many people lack access to proper education in lifesaving. While lifeguarding can be intense, proper training practice can turn a timid swimmer into a lifesaving expert. SwimRVA has created an opportunity for young swimmers to receive the crucial training needed to succeed in the future.


SwimRVA Junior Lifeguarding Camper

What is Junior Lifeguard Camp?

June 18th marked the start of SwimRVA’s first ever Junior Lifeguard camp! The goal of the camp is to prepare children for careers in lifeguarding by teaching skills before they register for the official course. Through junior lifeguarding, SwimRVA Safety School aims to train more confident lifeguards that are better prepared for employment.

Taught by Al Hamilton and Noelle Burgess of SwimRVA, the camp accepts ages 11 – 14 yrs., and is designed for those that aren’t yet eligible to take the official course. The prerequisites to taking an official course are challenging, so practicing skills before the actual test is very important to success.

“If [kids] have learning disabilities, want to learn more about lifeguarding, or are just really pumped to start, they can learn skills in advance to practice,” says Noelle Burgess.


Al Hamilton talking to SwimRVA Communications

Why Join Junior Lifeguarding?

Many reasons can be listed for why parents should begin their kids journey into lifeguarding as early as possible. Earlier exposure to crucial lifesaving skills condition young athletes to respect the serious nature of lifeguarding beforehand. Some of the skills taught by Al and Noelle include first aid, CPR, back-boarding, and Emergency Action Plan (EAP) preparation.

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The young participants are equally ready to learn. While playing during open swim with another camp running at SwimRVA, Al noted that all of the campers were “eager to get into the water to practice skills.” Sam, a swimmer for the SwimRVA Rapids, is one of the young athletes in the class working to better his swimming ability and knowledge of aquatic safety. Al cherishes every moment he has mentoring kids.

“The opportunity to mold younger swimmers into stronger swimmers is what drives me to teach the youth aquatic safety,” says Hamilton.


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More than Just Lifeguarding

Lifeguarding is an excellent employment opportunity for young swimmers building their skills. Like most high school kids in the Greater Richmond area, Noelle found employment after her parent’s strong suggestion. “As soon as I turned 15, my parents signed me up to work as a lifeguard.” 

Noelle gained many skills through lifeguarding that transferred to other areas of life, including management experienceimproved critical-thinking, a heightened sense of responsibility, and experience working in team-driven environments to name a few.

She is currently a lifeguard instructor, swim coach, and graduate student. 

“Part of the reason I got into grad school was because they liked how practical I was and my ability to keep myself and others under control, which I learned from lifeguarding. It really transcended lifeguarding and employment; my education has been positively impacted.” – Noelle Burgess


Lifeguarding plays a crucial role in drown-proofing Richmond waters and beyond. Accidental drowning is the 2nd leading cause of death for children ages 1 – 14 yrs. By empowering the youth to understand, respect, and appreciate the water, at an early age, community organizations are saving multiple lives directly, and countless more through education.

Through programs such as the SwimRVA Jr. Lifeguarding Camp, children are learning how to keep themselves and those around them safe from harm in an environment that promotes courage, dignity, truthfulness, persistence, and ultimately, success.

To learn more about Junior Lifeguarding in the Richmond Area, check out more here.



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The Mission of SwimRVA is to elevate swimming in the Richmond region making water safety and aquatic fitness more accessible to all. We promise to serve as a catalyst for regional aquatics and community-wide focus on water safety, health and fitness, sports tourism, and competitive aquatics. Donate today to help support our mission.