Why do Olympians need lifeguards?

- We love The Games! But we couldn’t help but notice something during the coverage of swimmers practicing and competing. Lifeguards?!

These are the best swimmers in the world and they are never more than a few strokes from the pool wall and within reach of a buoyant lane marker AND they are constantly watched by countless coaches and assistants. So are lifeguards really necessary? Is a lifeguard with zinc on their nose really needed to save someone like Michael Phelps who has won 23 gold medals?

Anderson Fertes, a 39-year-old lifeguard from Rio said, “I’m dreaming of the possibility” before starting his pool deck shift at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. “It’s a one-in-a-million type of event, but we’re prepared.”

So what could possibly go wrong? Water polo can get ruggedly physical. Synchronized swimming is a frequent source of sports concussions, and divers risk smacking the water in a gut wrenching belly flop. And it turns out that swimmers are at risk for debilitating cramps, heart attacks, and head-crunching crashes into the wall.

Well then it’s a good thing that the lifeguards are there, but we will be waiting with baited breath for a 17 year old lifeguard to yell “NO RUNNING” at Ryan Lochte.

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