While many think being a lifeguard is easy, it requires more than being able to blow a whistle.

To become a certified lifeguard, one must take an American Red Cross Certification Lifeguarding Training Class offered by the McPherson Family YMCA, located at 220 N. Walnut St. in McPherson.

"I have a class in the fall then I offer three in the spring — one in March, April and May. For our class, they start out with prerequisites to make sure students can meet the physical demands to become a lifeguard. After the prerequisites, we go into the classroom and go over the basics of lifeguarding," said Kyle Roberts, aquatics director of the YMCA.

While hitting the books is important to becoming a lifeguard, implementing them in the water is the key.

"We go over basic rescues and entries in the class, then we get in the water and work on those for a couple of hours," he explained.

Along with class time and hands-on training, students also learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, and how to use automated external defibrillators, or AEDs.

Roberts noted that students must be at least 15 years old to participate in this class, due to the physical demands needed for lifeguards.

"According to the Red Cross, 15-year-olds are the minimum age because the physical ability part does require an aspect where they have to pull somebody out of the water or hold somebody in the water. Or even if they're on land, they need to be physically strong enough to be able to move somebody out of danger on the ground by either dragging or lifting them," Roberts added. "Also doing those CPR compressions for a few minutes will wear you out quickly, and 14-year-olds struggle with that, whereas a 15-year-old has developed a little bit more physically to be able to do that."

While becoming a lifeguard takes training, Roberts said there is no experience is needed.

"They could have zero knowledge of lifeguarding and come into the class and learn what they need to. It's very simple material to understand, as long as they put in the effort toward learning — it's something that anyone could walk in and learn how to become a lifeguard," he added.

As the spring and summer months are just around the corner, McPherson has a large demand for lifeguards at the McPherson Water Park and the YMCA pool.

"For our area, lifeguards are needed. The most important thing we do is we are a direct life saver and we try to prevent things before they happen. The whole thing about lifeguarding in general, it's not necessarily, 'Oh something happened and we have to enter the water.' That is part of it, but the main aspect is preventing things. We look for hazards before they happen," Roberts said.

To register for the lifeguard training class, cost for a YMCA member is $175 and for a non-member is $225. Dates of the class are March 19, 20 and 21 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and students must be 15 years or older. Registration deadline is until the day of the class.

For more information, call the YMCA at 620-241-0363 or email Roberts at kyleroberts@ymca-mrc.org.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.