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By phil villarreal
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 22, 1999
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Nicholas Valenzuela
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Music Education senior Paul Coleman is a lifeguard who works at the UA rec center.

Name: Paul Coleman
Major: Music Education senior
Age: 22
Job description: Guard the lives of UA rec center swimmers. Sit atop a lofty high chair and soak in the sun. Don't let anyone die or - worse yet - commit horseplay.
Job qualifications: Must be trained in first aid every year and pass lifeguard qualification tests tri-annually. Must also be able to "scope chicks."
Job advantages: Gets to sit in the sun all day and get paid for it. Nice scenery, too.
Job disadvantages: None.

Ah, the exciting, Baywatch-like life of a lifeguard. Guardian of truth, justice and life.

These lucky guys get paid to watch bikinis all day, and when one falls in the pool and nearly drowns, they get to give the beautiful women mouth-to-mouth. These life-saving instances often turn into long-term relationships. Whenever a drug-smuggling ring or an illegal whaling agency enters the pool area, the lifeguards get to bust some heads.

But it turns out that the life of a lifeguard isn't always all that exciting.

In his two years working at the UA rec center, lifeguard Paul Coleman has never rescued one life. Not one. Never had to.

In Coleman's five years of lifeguarding - he works summers in the Phoenix area - he has rarely had to rescue anyone. In an interview Sunday, Coleman could only recall one instance in which he was called upon to rescue someone.

"One time there was this little kid who jumped off a high dive," Coleman deadpanned. "He couldn't swim."

Coleman was alert enough to dive in and save the kid that time, and you'd better believe he'd do the same for any UA student.

Any swimmer who has ever so much as dipped a toe in the UA rec center pool has lifeguards like Coleman to thank. Coleman and his crew keep a steady watch over the pool year-round.

The UA rec center lifeguard is an elite position. So many students apply for lifeguard duty that the university holds annual tryouts to fill its positions. Lifeguards must pass a battery of physical and mental tests, and only the best survive to perch on the high-rise lifeguard chair.

Coleman is one of the elite.

"It's good work if you can get it," Coleman said. Then he re-adjusted his sunglasses and looked over the pool. Sunlight ricocheted off of the attentive shades. Everyone at the pool knew that they were safe.

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