Where there’s water to swim in, there’s a lifeguard on duty. Even if all the people in the pool are Olympic athletes.
It’s not something that people think about, but when U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps — who has 23 Olympic medals and might actually be a merman — is beating everyone in the pool with floating barriers on either side of him, a lifeguard still is watching from the sidelines. The New York Times pointed this out on Instagram on Sunday with a great photo of a lifeguard at the Rio Olympics looking rather bored.
You know who has the most useless job in Rio? A lifeguard. That’s right: At the #Olympic swimming pool, where the world’s best swimmers are never more than a few strokes from the pool wall and always within reach of a buoyant lane marker, lifeguards are watching. They have what is probably the best view in the house, as they’re among the few people permitted on the pool deck. 75 lifeguards are hired to work at the Olympic sites and training centers. In some cases, the reasons are obvious. Water polo can get ruggedly physical. Synchronized swimming is a surprisingly frequent source of sports concussions. Divers risk smacking the water. But do events like the 50-meter sprint and the breaststroke need a lifeguard or 2? The answer is yes. (Just in case someone like @m_phelps00, who has 18 gold medals, needs rescuing.) On Monday, @nytmills captured this #lifeguard watching Olympians practice. Visit the link in our profile to read the full story, by @johnbranchnyt. #ReportingFromRio
The Times notes there are water sports where lifeguards likely are more alert for, but that has to be a great job if you’re on swimming duty. They get a front row seat to all the races while there’s probably more than a 99 percent chance that nothing will go wrong.
Sign us up for that.
Thumbnail photo via Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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