Predawn swimmers may have noticed a new face on deck. Concord native and Acton resident Jackie Palmer joined our lifeguard staff two years ago, following her recent retirement from a lifelong career as a D2 and D3 coach, college instructor and most recently, the athletic director at Mount Ida College.
But instead of breaking in a favorite easy chair, as some retirees are apt to do, Jackie began training for a position as the last one simmered down: A lifeguard at the Beede Center.
“I really loved what I saw in terms of management, the facility and the aqua fitness programs, especially the administration, leadership, curriculum design and management,” said Jackie, a Charter Member, explaining why she chose to work and train here.
But getting permission to don the red suit, whistle and sit atop the high white deck chairs proved a little more difficult than she had expected. “I felt that because I could swim, that was sufficient,” said Jackie, reflecting back on her lifeguard training class.
But apparently a love of water and a desire to help others were not enough for the Red Cross, which certifies the Beede Center lifeguards. On the first day of class, Jackie, along with the other students, was required to dive into the pool and retrieve a brick from the deep end.
“I flunked it. I flunked the dive test,” she admitted. That setback prevented her from continuing the class. The Beede Center conducts lifeguard training classes several times a year since its inception in 2006, and Jackie is hardly the first (or last) to be held back. She is, however, the first one to return, determined to retrieve the brick and do all the other work necessary for a certification.
Jackie worked with weights in the strength room, and swam laps religiously for six months. She signed up for another class and this time, retrieved the brick and successfully completed the course.
Jackie’s drive and passion for a job well done are not new. She earned a place at the
CCHS Hall of Fame,
and as a three-sport college athlete.
She has lifeguarded at the Beede Center since, most recently opening up with Head Lifeguard Mark Ryder a few mornings each week. She also guards a Quail Ridge.
Working as a lifeguard has made her keenly aware of the idiosyncrasies of the job. “I have never so respected lifeguards in my life,” she said. “You have to be razor attentive and immediate to help those in need. The casualness of it is hidden by the seriousness of helping others in the water. I don’t take it lightly.”
She is thrilled to be on the deck assisting members in their aquatic endeavors.
“I want to be intentional and helpful to others and by combining my craft with my love of fitness plus my love of wellness, it’s a perfect fit.”