Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Brazilian law requires lifeguards at Olympic pool

Brazilian law requires lifeguards at Olympic pool


Presence of unexpected guests sparks humorous reaction on social media

Presence of unexpected guests sparks humorous reaction on social media

With the Rio Olympics in full swing, legal talking points at the quadrennial event have centred on athlete doping, but events in the aquatics stadium have also raised eyebrows.

As Michael Phelps added to his record haul of Olympic medals and Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini won her 100m butterfly heat, lifeguards looked on, dressed in red and yellow with whistle and float in hand, ready to rescue those in difficulty.

Under Brazilian law, lifeguards must be present at swimming pools larger than 20 feet by 20 feet.

Anderson Fertes, a 39-year-old health-club lifeguard from Rio, told the New York Times before starting his shift at the stadium: 'It's a one-in-a-million type of event, but we're prepared.'

'I don't think they'll need us, but we'll be on the lookout just in case.'

The rule has caused amusement among the Twitterati, with one user posting: 'Dream job: lifeguard at the Olympic swimming events.' Another said: 'You know you've made it big as a lifeguard when you're guarding for Olympic swimmers.'

However, history shows that Olympians involved in pool events are not immune from injury. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Japanese synchronised swimmer Hiromi Kobayashi hyperventilated due to stress while in the pool and had to be helped onto the deck.

In the 2000 Sydney Games, Equatorial Guinea's Eric 'The Eel' Moussamabani nearly needed rescuing after struggling to finish the 100m freestyle. He had only started swimming months before the Games.

Danielle Martelote, the lifeguard supervisor at this year's Games, told the New York Times that lifeguards were necessary and mentioned cramps, heart attacks, and head injuries from hitting the wall as possible injuries.

With water polo famed for being dangerous and freak pool accidents always possible, the presence of Olympic lifeguards may be required after all.