Justin Cooper

Aquatic Service Supervisor, Bold Park Aquatic Centre

Aquatic Service Supervisor Justin CooperFinding his calling as a pool lifeguard in 1984, Justin Cooper is now a veteran of the aquatic industry and remains as passionate as ever today. Justin has worked at many of the major indoor and outdoor pools around Perth and, after a country stint managing the pool in Boddington, joined Bold Park Aquatic Centre in 2011. He enjoys the relaxed atmosphere and “country feel in the city” that the centre provides.

He says one of the most enjoyable, and important, aspects of the job is getting to know the people who come into the facility. “They range from 85 years old all the way down to the kids that come on a regular basis through the learn-to-swim programs, and you get to know them on a first-name basis.”

With younger children visiting the pool, Justin says parental supervision can often be an issue, “especially when they drag out their mobile phones! But we are constantly trying to make those parents aware – particularly at this pool – with signage, through liaising with them and talking to them … the more eyes on the pool the better.”

“You know the ability of your own child and we don’t. They might be a legend in the water or they could be a first-timer.”

In discussing the importance of the Watch Around Water program, Justin says “it’s vital at every pool to make sure we’re keeping people aware of their children and their ability, and not to be overconfident. I make sure my staff are aware of the [Watch Around Water] message and that they can relay the message to the public.”

He says initiatives such as the brightly-coloured wristbands for under-fives are the “kind of thing where it’s fun – the kids enjoy wearing it, and it not only helps mum keep it in the back of her mind but also allows our staff to identify them.” He says when the staff are aware of those children, they’ll more often approach parents who aren’t within arm’s reach of them.

With his career in the industry spanning more than three decades, Justin has also seen his share of incidents occur over the years due to inattention. He likens the repercussions of drowning incidents to those of having a car accident because you weren’t paying attention at the wheel. “If you’re not paying attention for that split second then something dire could happen – but it’s the consequences you have to live with afterwards,” he says. 

“I’ve never lost anyone on my shift, it’s been close on a couple of occasions but it’s all been good at the end of the day. The respect you get afterwards from the families that have been involved is immense, but at the same time it’s that message you need to relate to them of ‘please don’t let this happen again because it could have dire consequences’”.

“Please, get your bathers on, enjoy the water and have some fun.”

His advice to parents is just to “make sure that you bring your bathers and you jump in with them, don’t just rely on the staff around the pool. Every parent needs to realise that it’s highly important for their own child, and for the other children in the facility, that we’re all banding together.”

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