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Valley Parents: Hanover High graduates work as lifeguards at Storrs Pond Recreation Area

  • Lifeguards Trevor Pierce, 17, of Hanover, N.H., left, hands the chair over to Matt Bonner, 19, of Hanover at the Storrs Pond Recreation Area pool on Thursday, July 19, 2021 in Hanover.(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • Swimmers Isla Soucy, 5, of Hanover, N.H., left, Pippa, 6, and Charlie Hopley, 5, of Lebanon, show lifeguard Olivia Simon, 19, of Etna, N.H., a toad they found at the Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover on Thursday, July 15, 2021. After showing the toad to Simon, the children released it in the woods. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lifeguard Matt Bonner, 19, of Hanover, N.H., applies an adhesive bandage to Diego Martin-Asensio, 12, of Hanover, at the Storrs Pond Recreation Area pool on Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Hanover. Martin-Asensio was attending a day camp at Storrs. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • At the start of her shift, lifeguard Olivia Simon, 19, of Etna, N.H., applies sunscreen at the Storrs Pond Recreation Area pool on Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 9/13/2021 4:54:54 PM
Modified: 9/13/2021 4:54:54 PM

All those summers of learning to swim and later swimming for fun in the pool at Storrs Pond, Matt Bonner never imagined perching up in the lifeguard chair.

This summer, he’s overseeing all the lifeguards at the Hanover Improvement Society’s recreation area — and wondering exactly what set him on the road from there to here.

“I have no recollection of watching what they do,” Bonner, 19, said midway through his fifth summer by the pool. “I just remember getting yelled at many times with my friends, for running and things like that.”

Soon after joining the team of guardians at Storrs four summers ago, Bonner learned that herding kids was just one of many duties that fall to summer lifeguards. In addition to watching for swimmers in distress, the 12 lifeguards Bonner oversees fill slow periods by doing everything from practicing rescue techniques to mopping bathrooms and checking the chemical levels in the pool.

Rookie lifeguard Olivia Simon — who like Bonner is a 2020 Hanover High School graduate — also can’t recall observing the day-to-day regimen of the lifeguards who monitored her swim team’s practices and meets in Winooski, Vt., during her middle-school years.

Nor did it occur to her to do so while working out and competing with the Marauder varsity swimmers during her junior and senior years of high school.

Still, without realizing it, she’d been preparing for one of those tasks for years, as a crew team member first for Hanover High, then this past spring at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

“I’m a coxswain, because I’m too short to be a rower,” Simon said. “So I went from yelling in the boat to yelling in the chair.”

And of course, being a strong swimmer comes in handy for the tests required for certification.

“You do seven to eight hours online, then you go to a pool where you have to do things like swim 400 yards and retrieve a 10-pound brick from underwater,” Simon said.

“At the end, you have to show you can rescue a person three different ways, and perform CPR. I was with a good group. We were constantly challenging each other to do our best. It’s hard, but it’s somebody’s life.”

Anyone who emerges from all that, and is already a motivated student and varsity athlete, makes a good candidate, said Dick Dodds, facilities manager at Storrs Pond.

“It takes a lot of time,” Dodds said. “You’ve got to be fit; be a good swimmer. There’s a lot of education. I couldn’t have passed the rigorous testing.”

The payoff — in addition to wages ranging from $10 an hour for new guards to $13 for the more experienced — includes camaraderie.

“It’s a great place to work,” Dodds said. “You’re outside. You’re with your peers.”

Being outside with them was a relief for Bonner even during the pandemic summer of 2020, with the pond open for unguarded swimming and patrons signing up for blocks of time in the pool.

In the 15-minute breaks between blocks, he and his teammates cleaned every surface “with lots of bleach and water,” Bonner recalled. “The guards didn’t have to wear masks, but other employees down here did. The bathrooms, as you might expect, were the most dangerous place.

“We had, not a normal season, but it was fun,” he added. “It was nice to not just be locked up.”

Working at Storrs has been a relief in a number of ways for Simon, who had worked at the Ramunto’s restaurant in Hanover during the summers of 2018 and 2019 but missed the income during last year’s lockdown.

“Washing dishes and serving food, it’s a lot more hectic,” she said. “This is a totally different pace. At the same time, there’s so much more responsibility. You have to be on call. You have to be ready at a moment’s notice.”




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