To make a good impression I dressed in my black tracksuit with shorts and sports shirt underneath. I was looking good in my comfy clothes. In my bag I had some food, plenty of spare clothes, a poncho, and a yellow hoodie.
When I arrived I was told that my uniform was on late delivery. They asked if I would wear my own clothes until then. No problem. My tracksuit was quick drying, just in case I got splashed on the way around the park.
My task was to follow the senior lifeguards around to take part in lifeguarding the pool and assisting swimmers. The first lifeguard was Andy, dressed in a long sleeve swim shirt and long nylon pants.
"Are you ready for poolside?" he asked while mustering me from top to bottom.
"Yes, I am," I replied with a smile. Finally I could go out into the park and see all the fun.
"You might get a bit wet," he said. "Do you have spare clothes?"
"Yes, I have and I can get wet." I was ready for working around the pools.
The idea of getting my own clothes wet on the first day appealed to me.
He suggested I put on my anorak as there will be a lot of splashing.
I did as I was told and we headed out into the waterpark.
Andy explained that as part of our rotation we would go to a different place every 20 minutes. Some were on poolside, others were in the water. I wondered, how deep in the water that would be.
First we went to the shallow kids pool with floats, rafts and other fun things to climb on and fall off again. The kids could play around with water cannons and occasionally they sprayed water on my clothes. They loved that. Lifeguards are always prime targets. The next stop was the bottom of the slides.
"This is where we go into the water," said Andy. "Is that alright with all your clothes on?"
"Sure, no worries. I quite enjoy that anyway."
"Are you into wet clothes then?" asked Andy as we waded into waist deep water. I nodded with a shy grin while I enjoyed how my socks and shoes got wet, and then my baggy tracksuit right up to the waist.
We stood right by the splash down zone to make sure they all landed safely. It didn't take long for my clothes to get soaked on the front. My anorak kept my shirt and jacket dry, for now.
"Most lifeguards here like swimming in clothes. That's why we got the job," Andy explained. "The management wants us to go into the pool whenever swimmers need us, and not hesitate because we might worry about getting our clothes wet. If you're needed to help, or someone asks you to go in, then in you go, clothes and all."
This made sense to me. Prompt customer service is important to good leisure centres and water parks. In the hot climate where this place was, it's quite refreshing and clothes dry quickly. Sun protection is also important, so the swimmers were encouraged to wear clothes in the water, and most did.
Popular swimwear in the waterpark.
After 20 minutes we moved to the deep pool where a few teenagers practised different swimming skills. Most wore shorts and sports shirts, a few had tracksuits or jeans and hoodies on.
Others had just arrived and sat by the pool in their dry clothes, chatting and joking. Some felt too hot in their sports clothes or jeanswear and took a shower.
Andy warned me that some teens are keen to get the lifeguards wet.
It didn't take long.
One bombed into the water right next to us,
while we talked about swimming in clothes and why so many swimmers enjoy it.
"Can you show us how to swim properly with clothes on?" asked one from a group of older teens that just arrived, still dry in their jogging suits.
"Of course we can", said Andy looking at me. I wasn't quite sure what he meant. "Mika will show you how it's done. In you go, Mika, about time you get wet."
"Get wet! Get wet! Get wet!" chanted the teens while I took them to the steps where the water was about waist deep.
"Is this the first time you will swim in clothes?" I asked them.
"Yes, it's new for all of us. Only Pierre swims in clothes all the time. He told us about this water park and said it would be a laugh."
For a moment I pondered how to make this more exciting fun for them. Then I teased them by pretending to take my clothes off.
"No, no, no!" said the boy in the blue hooded jogging suit. "You have to keep all your kit on to show us how to swim in clothes properly."
They wanted me to go in first, so I went down the ladder. It felt really good to finally get my tracksuit and anorak completely wet. They followed one by one into the pool in their jogging suits, laughing and giggling. It was clearly a new experience for them.
We started with some wading to get used to how clothes feel in the water. This is good exercise for the legs with heavy jogging pants. Then we ducked under to get their hoodies wet.
"The hood will slow you down when it fills with water and gets heavy," I said. "Better put it up over your head and tie it for a good fit." They all did this while I put up my anorak hood. We swam a short distance underwater to get a feel of it.
"How did that go?" I asked. They really enjoyed swimming in jogging suits for the first time.
Then I explained that when swimming fully clothed front crawl is not much faster than breaststroke. They quickly picked up the finer points of each stroke and were soon racing each other up and down the pool.
After the session we floated around in the shallow end and they asked a lot of questions.
They wanted another session the next day. Sure, no problem.
While I was eating my lunch, still dripping wet, two lifeguards arrived with a big parcel containing my uniforms. After I finished my lunch they asked me to take a shower in my wet clothes to rinse out the chlorine carefully, so my clothes would last longer when I go swimming in them often. Good idea.
As I hung up all my clothes after the shower, I realised that I had no dry kit within reach, so I walked back into the staff room in my birthday suit. I'm cool with that and so were they.
To tease me they took their time to explain all the different uniforms and when to wear them on poolside and in the water. I was getting noticeably exited.
"Here, put that on before you embarrass yourself," said Andy and handed me the lifeguard shorts and polo shirt. I quickly put them on. They felt nice and soft.
"Now you take a shower," Robert said and ushered me back into the shower room.
I did as I was told and showered for a few moments in my basic uniform until it was fully soaked.
"How does it feel," asked Robert.
"Very good, very soft," I replied.
"That is by design. You wear this all the time, in and out of the water, no matter what.
Come back into the staff room."
They asked me to put on a red and yellow windbreaker with long nylon pants, and take another shower with the hood up. While I stood there getting soaked again as this suit wasn't waterproof, they said it is for wind and sun protection.
"Now go to the big pool and swim a few lengths in this suit," said Andy, "then come back."
As I walked out to the pool dripping wet, a lifeguard laughed at me: "They put you in the shower, right? They do that with all the newbies."
I swam several lengths and enjoyed every bit of it. Back in the staff room I had to rinse all the clothes in the shower and hang them up to dry. They gave me another set of shorts and shirt, plus a red and yellow jogging suit.
"Do I have to take another shower in this?" I asked jokingly.
"Of course. It's all part of the training. Get it wet." said Andy with a grin.
I went back into the shower room.
Just as I was about to turn the shower on to get the jogging suit wet, Andy shouted:
"No, stop, just kidding. Come back on poolside and follow me."
We walked swiftly to the waterfall. It is a big bucket that fills up quickly and then tips out over a platform from where the water gushes down in a massive waterfall over the visitors.
"Your task is to stay close to the visitors under the waterfall to help if there is a problem," said Andy.
"Do I need to change into different kit?" I asked.
"No, your jogging suit is fine. Put your hood up to avoid sunburn. Follow Henry's instructions." I did as I was told, and Andy walked off.
The waterfall looked like fun. Lots of people awaited the next deluge. Most wore sportswear, some in jeans and hoodies, and one in a poncho. Very colourful. Lifeguard Henry was soaking wet.
"What happened to you?" I asked.
"Stand here and find out," he replied with a grin as he walked off to catch up with Andy.
After a minute I could hear some rumbling above, people were getting excited. I was clueless of what was going on. Suddenly a massive wall of water came down, soaking everyone, including me.
I was wet to the skin, my jogging suit heavy and dripping, much to the amusement of the kids. Wow, great fun. This happened twenty times while I was on that post until Mick took over, dressed in a dry red and yellow jogging suit like me. He looked at me with a knowing smile and took over the spot where I was, putting his hood up. As I turned to go, Mick got drenched, loving it.
As I headed back to the staff room, Andy saw me and send me to the Lazy River. He explained that it needs at least two lifeguards there, on at the entry and exit point, and one floating around.
The Lazy River goes around in a big meandering circuit with people sitting in rings. It has spray jets from the side to push them forward, and several showers to keep them drenched.
Tom greeted me: "Hi Mika, you look wet, what happened?"
"I was looking after the waterfall."
"And they told you to stand in a certain spot, right?" He laughed and gave my a float ring. "Since you're already wet, flaot around the river for a while to check that everybody is safe."
I waded into the water in my heavy wet jogging suit and hopped on a ring to float with the current. Around the corner was the first shower and I got soaked big time. Occasionally I had to go into the water to assist a swimmer. Everybody was having fun.
For about 20 minutes I floated in the river.
Then Tom stopped me at the exit and asked me to stand in the water
and help people in or out of the river, while he floated around.
Lazy River became one of my favourite spots in the waterpark.
During the rest of the afternoon I was moved to different places in the park. I had several breaks where I could relax and change into dry clothes. Staff always had to wear dry clothes when they came onto pool side, to look presentable. Often my clothes got wet after a while on poolside.
What a great start for my new job.
Every day brought more exciting soakings.