Ivanna Moyer spends her summers — and most other days — at the pool.
“We call people who come here every day ‘pool rats,’ well, I’m a paid pool rat,” Moyer said.
Moyer is the head aquatics manager at McPherson Water Park during the summer months. When school is in session, she has worked as the head lifeguard at McPherson Family YMCA. All told, she has more than 11 years of lifeguarding experience.
Moyer started her career as a junior lifeguard, learning basic CPR, first aid and rescue techniques.
Junior lifeguards shadow lifeguards for 20 hours, assisting swimmers in the children’s areas and testing the waters, as it were, to see if they want to continue in that field.
After four years as a junior lifeguard, Moyer took classes to become a certified lifeguard. She learned more advanced rescue techniques, training to react quickly, and professionally, when faced with medical emergencies including a heart attack, stroke or spinal injury at the pool.
As a lifeguard, Moyer watched different areas of the pools. She and her fellow lifeguards rotated positions every 20 minutes, a practice that is still followed to encourage alertness.
“That way, they’re not watching the same thing all day long,” Moyer said. “...It’s something that keeps them moving and doing different things.”
Moyer said she would make up dance moves as she watched the lazy river, but her favorite stand was the one near the diving boards.
“A lot of our guards actually teach kids how to dive and do flips and other cool things off the diving boards,” Moyer said. “It’s a cool way to interact with the community members.”
Moyer moved up to become a lifeguard captain and took on more responsibilities, including setting up pool equipment, cleaning tasks and checking on the other lifeguards on duty.
Just over three years ago, Moyer was promoted to head aquatics manager. She now creates schedules for the lifeguards, teaches lifeguard classes and leads two hours of lifeguard refresher training every week.
“During training, we divide up into teams and do team building games to get to know each other a little better,” Moyer said.
Teaching is a passion of Moyer’s — she will be teaching fifth grade in Salina this fall — so leading young teenagers is an opportunity she relishes.
“A lot of times, it’s the first job ever for a 15-year-old. It’s cool to help them along their journey of life,” Moyer said.
Moyer passes on the skills she learned in her years of lifeguarding.
“I’ve learned how to interact with other people,” Moyer said. “I’ve learned good communication skills and how to handle conflicts in the right manner — not getting angry and yelling back, learning to how stay calm and stay alert.”
Showing respect for the pool’s patrons is key to receiving respect in return, Moyer said. That starts with being able to talk with anyone who comes through the gate.
“That’s the coolest part about my job — I get to walk around and talk to patrons and lifeguards and get to know the community a lot better,” Moyer said. “I’m a big community person, so I love talking to people.”
For the past six years, Moyer has taught swimming lessons to children.
“Once you get them to not be terrified of the water and they’re swimming every day, it’s the coolest thing to see,” Moyer said.
Interacting with children and seeing them grow up gives her the determination to provide the best customer service possible.
“I try to work hard and give kids a safe place to come during the summer,” Moyer said.
Moyer’s favorite day to work at McPherson Water Park is the Fourth of July, during which employees have a contest to see who can come up with the most patriotic outfit.
“I enjoy the staff we have right now; they’re all positive,” Moyer said.
Despite the long, hot days, not a summer will go by in McPherson without Moyer’s presence at its pools.
“It’s fun. I love it here. I never want to leave,” Moyer said.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.