Jen Baen-Price started lifeguarding in 2008, with her first season at Christchurch’s Waltham Pool.
Fifteen years later and after stints in every pool and Aquatics position at Christchurch City Council, Ms Baen-Price has been awarded Lifeguard of the Year at the 2023 National Aquatics Awards.
Prior to this work, Ms Baen-Price completed her level four certificate and level five Outdoor Education Diploma at what’s now known as the Ara Institute of Canterbury. Following this, she undertook a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Primary) at the University of Canterbury.
“I took away many skills through each of these qualifications, including managing a team, dealing with customers and training staff – which I now use in my position as Team Leader Aquatics at Matitiki Hornby Centre,” says Ms Baen-Price.
Since her lifeguarding career began, Ms Baen-Price has worked her way through each Council pool facility, including the old QEII and Centennial pools, and believes Christchurch residents have an amazing network of pools across the city.
She says while lifeguarding might look tame or quiet, this is how they like it to look. “It means nothing is broken, everyone is being safe, and all the hard work of training, educating and preventing rescues has already been done.
“I’ve stayed as a lifeguard through the years as I enjoy the customers, and I’m passionate about water safety and keeping people in our communities active.
“It’s a huge motivator working as part of a team that really aligns with my goals. We all want to see more people in, being active and having fun. My team are awesome people that make coming to work fun.”
Duties behind the scenes for the lifeguard team include water quality, lifeguard training and plantroom maintenance.
Ms Baen-Price says it’s great to be able to represent the Council at a national level through the National Aquatics Awards. “Just being nominated is an honour! Lifeguarding is a great job, with a great work-life balance.”
Ms Baen-Price passes on her congratulations to other finalists, including Christchurch City Council Graham Condon Recreation and Sport Centre’s Martin D’Orso - who received one of the two Merit Awards presented at the ceremony.
Christchurch City Council also received the Aquatic Innovation Award in collaboration with Youth and Cultural Development and Sport Canterbury, for the FRESH Pool Parties. This initiative aims to engage youth and whānau from a high deprivation region of Christchurch in active recreation.