Scott enjoying the second of his ‘fulfilling careers’

Published 9:23 am Monday, July 24, 2017

Wayne Scott grew up at the Vicksburg YMCA. He started by riding his bike there daily before he was even old enough to start school. He transitioned into working at the front desk in his early teenage years and then finally as a lifeguard throughout his high school days and into college.

Nearly 60 years later, the YMCA, where he serves as the youth program director and aquatics director, remains a central part of Scott’s life.

“Kids could walk 10 blocks and not worry about somebody hassling them or something like that,” Scott said of his early trips to the YMCA. “I’d get up, get on my bike and head straight to the Y when it opened and then in the afternoon I’d swim in the pool.”

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He taught himself to swim in the pool and now he spends his days making sure the next generation remains safe around the pool in his job overseeing the YMCA’s lifeguards.

“I want every parent to know that their child who walks through the front door of this swimming pool that they are fully aware that their child is going to be safe and they do not have to worry about their child getting hurt,” Scott said.

Much of that comes down to the way he trains his lifeguards, who like himself back in the day are mostly high school and college students on summer break.

“I teach my guards to be proactive not reactive,” Scott said. “My thought process is that if you have to pull somebody out of the pool and do CPR, then you haven’t done your job as a lifeguard. Your job is to make sure that never happens.”

Scott has spent his entire adult life protecting and caring for others. Before joining the staff at the YMCA he spent 33 years working for the city of Vicksburg as a fire fighter including 16 years as deputy chief. For 12 of those years, he was in charge of the ambulance service and says bringing Advanced Life Support to the department is one of the things he is most proud of.

Scott retired from the city in 2009 and soon after was starting a second career with the YMCA.

“I started off kind of part time,” Scott said. “The next thing I know, I am the program director and the aquatics director and I teach American Red Cross CPR, I’m a lifeguard instructor and I run both pools and do YMCA youth programs.”

Scott said he is blessed to have had “two really fulfilling careers,” but if he could go back do it over he might make a change.

“Once a firefighter always a firefighter, yeah I wish I had done this the whole time though,” Scott said of working at the YMCA. “Thirty-three years with the fire department was absolutely marvelous. Seen every tragedy you can possibly see in a lifetime, but have seen so many joyful moments.”

Scott is in a supervisory position now, but even at the age of 64 he can still be found recapturing the summers of his youth sitting poolside with a red lifeguard buoy hung around his shoulder and a whistle around his neck.

“I love it,” Scott said. “That is what I was born to do. It was working with the kids and being a part of it. The greatest thing is when a grandmother walks up to me and has her grandchild and she goes, ‘he taught me how to swim and I know he’ll teach you how’”