Watching over pool users 'has its upsides'

Lifeguard Ashlie Nobilo (centre)  and fellow lifeguards (from left) Kieran Applegarth, Tara...
Lifeguard Ashlie Nobilo (centre) and fellow lifeguards (from left) Kieran Applegarth, Tara Bisset, Jakub Kajetanowicz, Lydia Ward, pool supervisor Gaye Davies and Emily Lawrence at the Otago Therapeutic Pool in Dunedin. Photo by Linda Robertson.

Growing up with one of the country's most popular beaches on her back doorstep inspired Ashlie Nobilo to become a lifeguard - not so much out of want, but necessity.

The 29-year-old Otago Therapeutic Pool lifeguard was raised on the shores of Muriwai Beach, on the west coast of Auckland, and during that time she witnessed countless episodes of people getting into trouble in the water, and many drownings.

''Seeing those things fostered that want to continue helping people and keep the beaches safe.

''It's a small coastal beach community, so you're just born into it.

''I'm sometimes surprised I don't have gills - I've spent that much time around the water.''

Her parents started sending her to lifeguard training classes when she was 3, and by the time she was 14, she was a fully fledged lifeguard.

Her passion for being a lifeguard is such that during the winter, when surf life-saving shuts down, she continues to watch over people in the water at the Otago Therapeutic Pool in Dunedin.

She is one of about 10 pool lifeguards who work in shifts at the pool.

''It's good to be able to keep the lifeguarding aspect [skills] going during the winter,'' she said.

''And I really like working at this facility, because I originally studied occupational therapy, so it's really cool to see the benefits that clients can gain after injury or illness - they can come here and make massive improvements.''

Being a lifeguard at the pool was quite different from the beach, she said.

''Our presence at the pool is more a precautionary thing.

''But there is always that heightened diligence that you have to maintain, because you never quite know when something will happen or what will happen.

''And there's quite a different demographic of people here to be particularly cautious of, with quite significant injuries or elderly.''

One of the benefits of working at the physio pool was that it was significantly warmer than working on Dunedin's beaches, she said.

''It definitely has its upsides.''

Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust secretary treasurer Neville Martin said more than $792,000 had now been raised since the fundraising campaign by the trust started in April.

The total was now past the halfway mark to the $1.5 million needed to save the pool.

He reminded the community the trust was a charity and donations were tax deductible.

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