“Everyone that steps into this pool is my responsibility,” says Southeastern Indiana YMCA Lifeguard, Joe Cruse. “Before I became a lifeguard, I thought it was mostly just sitting around, but after going through training and working at the Y, I take my job very seriously.”

Cruse has been a swimmer all his life, participating in swim team as a youth, and even teaching adult swim lessons when he was in the Marine Corp. He also has 16 years’ experience as a volunteer EMT and first responder for the Sunman Fire Department. In 2017 he retired from Proctor and Gamble and joined the Y. After taking a break during COVID, Cruse re-joined the Y to rehab his shoulder after reconstruction surgery. “The swimming has really helped,” he says.

For Aquatics Director, Kristen Fletcher, he seemed like an obvious choice to hire as a daytime lifeguard.  “When Kristen first approached me, I was hesitant because I didn’t want to over commit myself during retirement. However, I only work 12 hours a week, and Kristen is very accommodating with my schedule. I’ll fill in if needed and my schedule allows. And if I can’t, it’s okay. I also use the extra income to support my fly fishing hobby,” Cruse says with a smile. “Lifeguarding is more than just standing around, I talk to swimmers and I’m getting to know many of the members’ names. It’s going good.”