Grace Barratt

Aquatic Service Officer, Bold Park Aquatic Centre

Pool Lifeguard Grace BarrattGrace Barratt has worked as a pool lifeguard for Bold Park Aquatic Centre for eight years, where she enjoys the natural beauty of the centre and its surrounding bushland. Grace is passionate about the aquatic industry, having been a swimmer for most of her life. “I think I was born in the water, you know – a real water baby” she laughs, and her commitment to ensuring others can safely enjoy the water is apparent.

Grace considers pool lifeguarding a rewarding and fulfilling job, where she can prevent accidents and educate the public and community to maker water fun. “As soon as you make it fun, people want to learn more about it, so they’re safe around it and can enjoy themselves.” 

She says one of the highlights of the job is being able to regularly engage with the public. “I think it’s really important to get to know your patrons, firstly for safety because you learn who has pacemakers or who has a history of asthma and things like that, but also on a personal level. I think that’s what sets us apart from other pools, is that we take the personal approach with our patrons – we know a lot of them by name. They come in and do their thing, and we make sure that they’re all doing it safely and enjoying themselves.”

The role isn’t without its challenges, however. Grace says one of the big issues currently is parents being on their mobile phones and not engaging with their children around water. “People just think they can watch from the side, but they just don’t know how quickly things can go wrong. We all want to enjoy ourselves around water, so I think it’s vital that we keep an eye on young kids.”

Grace is a big advocate of the Watch Around Water program that was introduced in 2004 by the Leisure Institute of WA and Royal Life Saving WA. She says the program really helps lifeguards to do their job properly and is a big part of preventing drownings. “The more people that are aware and observing during water activities, the better.” 

The Watch Around Water program includes initiatives such as coloured wristbands to more easily identify children under five years old, who always need to be within arm’s reach of an adult anywhere around the centre (i.e. in the water with them). 

“I love the wristbands especially. It’s a really obvious way to educate people and I think that has really worked, it has prevented so many incidents.” 


The program also includes signage around the centre and regular announcements over the PA system reminding parents to remain vigilant. “It just reminds people because they can get a bit nonchalant about it – they’re just enjoying themselves and they forget, so these are a good reminder.”

Grace’s message to parents visiting aquatic centres with young children is simply to “have fun, but just make sure that you’re engaged with your children enough to keep them safe.” She would also like to see more parents actively participating with their kids in the water. 

“I think it would be wonderful if parents could jump in with their kids, no matter what age, and show them how great and safe water can be.”

 

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