Hartford Lifeguard Morgan Pero at the Sherman Manning Pool


Submitted a year ago
Created by
Paula M. Nulty

Who's Hartford: Sherman Manning Pool Lifeguards Pero, Cooley, and Thompson

Lifeguard Morgan Pero, Head Guard Thomas Cooley, and Pool Director Taylor Thompson have ten years of Hartford Pool experience among them.  This summer, they have seen actual rescues at the heavily youth populated spot drop to zero.  They owe the recreation success to more swim instruction being made available to Hartford swimmers, and families taking advantage of the programs.  Read more about this, and the lifeguards, in this week’s Who’s Hartford interview:

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 Where do you go to school?

Morgan Pero (MP): Hartford High, Class of 2018

Thomas Cooley (TC): I’m in my second year at Vermont Technical College.  I recently switched my major to Business.

Taylor Thompson (TT): Second year at the University of Rhode Island.  I’m majoring in Economics and Business.

Have you ever worked anywhere else?

MP: I once worked seasonal at a retail store. 

TC: This is my fifth year.  I worked at the Lebanon Pool the summer this one was closed.

TT: Jesse’s, and Butler’s. 

 Do you think you get paid enough?

MP: I think we get paid pretty well.  Other places pay more, but I am not going to complain at all.  It's about the job not the money. I love this job.  I wouldn't want to have any other job: you get to be at a pool all day, hang out with kids, save lives (if needed) and be outside getting tan for free! I wouldn't trade this job for any other. 

TC: Oh yeah.  And it’s a lot of fun.  The kids make it fun.

TT: Agreed

Have you had to make a save, of any kind? 

MP: I've never had a huge dramatic save while I was on the chair. I've just had to help kids here and there. And of course I've had red caps (fire drills for lifeguards).

TC: Yes.  We had more saves in previous years.  Ventures (Town of Hartford summer program) campers used to be able to opt out of swim lessons; now the kids are required to take them during their session.  That’s made a big difference.

TT: And second graders in Hartford get free lessons at UVAC (Upper Valley Aquatic Center), and that’s helped definitely.  Kids stay up better swimming here now.  We do run random drills for lifeguards two times a week.

Morgan Pero helps a child enjoy the slide

Who’s your favorite kind of kid to have at the pool?  What kind of kids are the most difficult?

MP: My favorite kind of kid is one who is respectful of the rules and is polite when asked to not do something, who keeps to himself or herself, but also interacts with the lifeguards. I love when you know the kids by name and they know you by name. I think the biggest thing is when they listen mostly. The most difficult are the ones who don't listen, who don't know the rules and don't care to read them, and aren't very respectful towards the guards and their peers. 

TC: I like ‘em all.

TT: Everybody has a bad day.  The kids are lots of fun.  We had one boy who was always misbehaving, and actually got kicked out of the pool at the beginning of the summer.  Now he’s one of our helpers, and has a great relationship with everybody.

Who taught you to swim?

MP: My grandfather taught me how to swim for the most part.  I self-taught myself the rest. 

TC: I learned right here: Jim Hull (he points across the pool to guard, assistant director, swim teacher and swim coach).  Also Sam and Jim, but I can’t remember their last names.

TT: Yup, here.  Stephanie Dorain, and Sam too.

Do you burn?  

 MP: I don't think I’ve used sunscreen anywhere but my nose: last year I burned my nose really bad. When I first started someone said I needed sunscreen because I am a blonde, but I only burn the first day which turns into a tan, and after that I tan for the rest of the summer. Thankful to have Native American in me. 

TC: No.  I’ve got a lot of base layers.  I like it so hot you can’t walk across the parking lot barefoot.  Which is good because it also keeps the kids out of the parking lot.

TT: No.

Thomas Cooley, wearing sandals in the parking lot

Do you wear sunglasses, and what style?

MP: I wear sunglasses every time I am on the stand and when I am swimming in the pool. I wear polarized Ray Bans.  They're like my regular glasses just in sunglass form. 

TC: Yes, many kinds.  (That day he was supporting a patriotic pair – Left frame blue stars, right frame red stripes.)

TT: Yes, these.  (Sporting a beloved, slightly battered pair of black Oakleys.)

If the Rec Department asked you to design next year’s uniforms, your design would be...?

MP: I would definitely make two pieces allowed - the one piece tan lines are really rough and never go away. I respect having to wear the one piece though. 

TC: No change.  But the girls don’t like the tan lines. 

TT: Nope.  As is. 

What do you bring to eat during your shift?

MP: I bring snacks mostly because I get to work around lunchtime so I try to eat before. 

TC: Popcorn.  I go to Moe’s four times a week during my hour lunch break.  They don’t even ask me what I want anymore. 

TT: Nothing on the chair.  Popcorn.  Turkey or roast beef sandwich.  Whatever my mom gives me.

If you could add anything to the pool – snack bar, longer slide, higher diving board, employee lounge, just for examples – what would it be?

MP: I would get a new diving board and slide because ours are really old and they are definitely the biggest attractions at our pool. 

TC: I would have the deck and pool resurfaced.

TT: Yes, I agree.  And a new slide.  The slide shakes a little.  It gets used a lot.

Do you have a motto, as THE Hartford Pool Lifeguards?  Would you like to suggest one and we’ll see if it catches on?

MP: We mostly call ourselves the pool crew or the lifeguard squad. 

TC: We’re pretty low-key.

TT: Way back we called ourselves the Crime Stoppers.

Taylor Thompson, Sherman Manning Pool Director and lifeguard


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