Giovanni and I were asked to rinse adventure gear that was left dirty after some muddy events,
mostly waterproof pants, anoraks and cagoules.
We put them all into a large bucket and headed into the yard which has a big hose pipe.
"How are we getting these clean?" I asked Giovanni.
"We can either rinse them in the lake or use the hose pipe." he replied with a big grin.
"But there is only one hose pipe." I added.
"No problem. You hold the clothes up and I hose them down. Then we take turns. Easy."
Giovanni obviously knew what was best and I slowly understood why we were wearing ponchos.
We tipped the bucket out to have room for the clean clothes.
I picked up a long anorak and Giovanni sprayed it (and me) until it was clean.
Then I put it into the bucket and picked up the next item.
The poncho kept me fairly dry for a good while above the knees.
Below my pants, socks and shoes were soaked.
Because of the way Giovanni handled the hose pipe,
water eventually started to came in through the collar and began to soak the front of my clothes.
No problem. I expected that anyway.
The hose pipe had a leak near the nozzle, so Giovanni's poncho was getting wet too.
After we swapped over, I hosed him down from top to bottom.
He just loved that, but he was still dry inside.
It took me quite some effort to get him wet around the top.
Soon we were done, took all the kit back into the drying room and hung it up on the racks.
We got quite hot in our ponchos and finally hung them up too.
Turned out we were both somewhat damp, but not really wet.
We headed back to the pool hall to find out about our next task.
Joey wanted us to check out all the showers, make sure they worked,
had clean heads and the temperature controls worked.
He explained that we should simply turn them on,
check the water flow is good, and test for both hot and cold water.
We went to the shower room where
I stood next to the first shower and turned it on,
holding just my hand in to feel the temperature.
Mark was new and watched me, since he's never done this before.
"That's how wimps do it!" said Giovanni with a laugh.
"You're supposed to step under the shower so you can feel the temperature right.
Turn it hot, turn it cold, check the flow."
He turned on a shower, rotated the temperature knob and soaked the front his green uniform.
Then he moved on to the next shower.
Moments later he was dripping wet and looked really happy.
Then he shoved Mark under a shower until he was all wet.
Mark looked puzzled.
I understood and stepped into the next shower,
tried it hot, then cold, and checked the flow.
The clothes made the hot and cold water feel less extreme, but it was still very intense and most exciting.
Andy and James appeared in the shower room to help with the testing.
Since they were still mostly dry and felt hot from poolside work,
they really enjoyed the refreshing shower.
They looked great as their clothes gradually got wetter the more showers they checked out.
After we've thoroughly tried all 20 showers, we went back to the pool hall.
Joey said we were all done and the place was ready for the new guests.
"Your clothes look all wet." Joey commented. "How did that happen?"
"Incompetent sloppiness." Giovanni explained. We just smiled.
"Oh well," Joey said as he turned the pool sprinkler on to a light rain for the plants, "you might as well go for a swim then."
Without hesitation we dived into the pool and enjoyed splashing around in our green uniforms.
I put the poncho back on to keep warm.
After a while most of the others fetched their ponchos too and relaxed in the shallow end.
We sat shoulder deep in a circle, huddled up in our ponchos in the rain, talking about the week's events.
Mark said this was all new to him, looking into the water at his billowing poncho.
Before he came here he had never soaked his clothes on purpose.
He never thought is was so much fun and felt so good.
Now he was hooked.
Once a week was staff training, always great fun and a laugh.
We started off with a few lengths warm-up swimming just in swim wear, like our uniform shirts and shorts.
Some of the tough guys wore their jogging pants for that.
Then we put on our jogging suits and practiced rescue skills.
This was an important part of the staff training.
We had to keep up to speed with our rescue skills, like the various casualty tows and initiative tests.
Finally we put on the outdoor kit, like rain pants and long cagoules.
We then practiced rope crossings, maybe some boating,
or tried to climb up the free climbing wall above the pool.
This was usually the most fun part.
To make this more interesting and to add the realism of bad weather,
one staff member got the big hose pipe out and sprayed us with cold water as we climbed around.
The waterproof kit kept most of it off, but not all.
With the heavy waterlogged clothes it was not easy to hold on to the wall or the ropes,
and we often fell back into the warm pool.
After staff training we often relaxed in the shallow end of the pool, talking it all through.
Then we went to the showers and rinsed all our kit before drying off.
Just as I had changed into my cosy dry jogging suit after our swim, the phone rang.
Joey was on the line.
"Felix, can you do a water test for me?
I've got this guy here who wants to work with us and I want to know if he floats."
"No problem," I replied as I grabbed my yellow anorak. "I'll be in the pool hall right away."
Meeting on Poolside
On pool side Joey introduced me to Nico, a skinny guy, about 20 years old.
Joey asked me to explain the whole game plan and do the rescue test with him,
with me acting as casualty.
Then Joey left.
"What brings you here?" I asked to break the ice.
"Well, I like swimming and adventure sports.
My friends said this is a totally rad place."
"Indeed, they're right," I confirmed and explained to him how the centre works and what we do.
He took off his anorak and hoodie as it was quite warm in the pool hall,
but kept on his jeans and beige tee-shirt.
"Did you bring any clothes for the water test?" I finally asked.
"Erm, no." he said slowly, "Can I wear what I have on now? Is that alright?"
"Sure, whatever. But first you take a shower. Let me show you where it is.
We always take a shower in our swimming kit before we enter the pool."
He slowly stepped into the shower, then looked back at me with a big smile.
"This is way cool!" he said as the warm water ran through his tee-shirt and jeans.
"Are you not showering?"
"I've just been in the pool.
No need to shower again," I explained. "Are you used to swimming in clothes?"
He smiled and said: "Not really. Only tee-shirts and shorts. Jeans sometimes."
"Then swimming in full adventure kit will be quite a new experience for you." I said to him with wink.
Pool Test - Part 1
We went back to the pool where other lifeguards was practising rescue skills.
Nico dived in and swam a few warm-up lengths
in his tee-shirt and jeans,
using different swimming strokes for each set of four lengths.
I walked along the poolside to check it out.
He was quite a good swimmer.
After a few lengths he climbed out of the pool,
we sat down on the deck chairs for a drink of fruit juice and talked about the way this adventure centre works.
"Do you sometimes swim in your jogging suit?" he asked as he dried his hair with a towel.
"Yes, almost daily. It is our staff uniform." I explained.
"We need to be visible and should wear it on poolside and in the pool
during the training sessions or other events that we offer our guests.
For some fast paced games we only wear the polo shirts and shorts.
For boating we also have matching anoraks and pants."
He looked at me and asked: "Is it hard to swim in a jogging suit?"
"It's harder than jeans and tee-shirt, but very comfy." I explained.
"We don't move around as much as the guests.
The whole suit keeps us warmer than shorts and polo shirt alone."
"I've never done this before, like swimming in a full jogging suit." he said and paused for a moment.
"Can I try it now?"
"Sure. Come along. I'll get you one."
Pool Test - Part 2
We went to the drying room to fetch a hooded jogging suit in his size.
He took off his wet jeans and put on the jogging suit over his wet tee-shirt.
"Alright, jump in and be surprised" I suggested.
"After you," he said, "I want to see how you swim in your jogging suit first."
'Cheeky devil' I thought to myself.
"You have to find a way to get me into the pool," I said as I put my hood up.
We walked back on poolside.
Suddenly he grabbed hold of me and hurled me backwards into the pool.
That came as a big surprise, but it felt so good to swim in my clothes.
"Your turn now," I said, "jump in and learn."
He hesitated, looked at the jogging suit he wore, moved his hands over the dry cotton, then took a big leap into the pool.
"Whoa! This feels heavy!" he shouted as he surfaced.
I showed him some rescue tows and he eventually managed to tow me for two pool lengths.
He was quite exhausted after about 20 minutes of swimming in heavy clothes,
yet the best was still to come.
"So, what you think?" I asked.
"Well, it's great fun, but quite a work out," he replied while catching his breath.
Pool Test - Part 3
We got out of the pool and hung the jogging suits up to dry.
Then we put on tracksuits with waterproof clothes as outer layer.
I told Nico that this is the usual outdoor outfit for staff and guests.
The purpose of this test was to see how he would cope with all out action for half an hour or more,
dressed in full adventure kit.
"Why do we wear track suits instead of the cotton jogging suits?" Nico asked.
I explained that cotton gets cold quickly when outdoors.
Manmade fibres don't hold as much water and thus keep us warmer.
The waterproofs keep the windchill away.
We also put on socks and special canvas shoes which were reserved for pool use only.
"What are the shoes for?" he asked.
"You'll be surprised what difference they make." I said with a knowing smile.
Once we were all zipped in with the hoods up,
we picked an inflatable boat and paddled into the middle of the pool.
We stood up in the wobbly boat, holding on to each other by the shoulders.
We could just about keep our balance.
"Are you ready for a big splash?" I asked.
"Can't wait! Go for it!" he replied with a big smile, showing his excitement.
A little push from me and we both fell into the pool.
The air in the clothes made us float for a while.
As we climbed back into the boat, Giovanni appeared on poolside,
looking good in his white tee-shirt and grey jogging pants.
"Are you guys having fun?" he asked as he headed for the drying room.
"Sure," I replied, "come in and join us."
Without hesitation he turned towards the pool, dived in and swam over to our boat.
He climbed in and quickly tipped it over.
A wild game followed with us all trying to climb into the boat and not get pushed out again.
"You're at an unfair advantage," said Nico to Giovanni,
"because you wear only tee-shirt and pants, no adventure gear."
"Indeed. I just jumped in as I was, before getting properly dressed. How thoughtless of me."
We got out of the pool and went to the drying room to find him some kit.
Then we saw some ponchos still dripping wet from an earlier adventure.
GiovannI picked a white poncho.
"Have you ever worn a poncho in the water?" I asked Nico while I swapped my anorak for a poncho.
"No, never had a chance," he replied while taking off the waterproof clothes.
GiovannI smiled: "Then now is the time. Put this one on."
Nico carefully put the black poncho over his head and pulled it down to his knees over his wet clothes.
"You want me to swim with this on?" he asked, looking skeptical.
"Yes, of course." I said while I put on a red hiking poncho just for fun.
I always enjoyed swimming in ponchos.
"Make sure it doesn't float over your head when you're in the water. Use the waist band if you like."
Back at the shallow end of the pool Nico slowly waded into the water,
watching as the poncho floated up around his legs.
As he was waist deep in the water, he pushed his arms out through the sides
and held the poncho down as he continued to go in shoulder deep.
Then he swam to the deep end.
He was surprised: "Hey, swimming in a poncho is easier than I thought."
"Welcome to our Poncho Swimming Team!" Giovanni said laughing.
Nico joins the Lifeguard Team
We splashed around for a while until Joey came into the pool hall.
"Looks like you got Nico fully kitted out. How did the swim test go?" he asked.
"Yes, pretty well." I replied, "He can swim fully clothed just fine, and his rescue skills are up to speed."
"Good," said Joey to Nico, "see me in my office when you're done swimming,
and I'll check you in and give you three sets of uniforms."
"Why three uniforms?" asked Nico.
"Well, you sometimes get a bit wet here," explained Joey, "ask Felix."
The afternoon had no official programme.
Staff were free to choose what they wanted to do.
Clouds came up in the afternoon with light rain.
Our team suggested we should walk down to the town and check out the shops, hoping in might rain a bit more later.
We put on light cargo pants, long sleeve tops and hoodies.
Andy and Tim chose rather long hoodies that reached almost to their knees.
I wondered how long they would get if they were soaked by the rain.
Giovanni took a keen interest in some anoraks and nylon camo ponchos at an Army Surplus Store.
After trying them on for a good while he bought a few for his collection.
As we wondered around town the rain slowly got heavier,
and so did our clothes.
Tim and Andy's hoodies also got longer just as I expected.
The guys were happy, looking good.
It started tipping down as we went back.
I put my hood up as the rain began to soak through all my clothes.
Finally we reached the adventure centre, passing the pool hall.
"Anybody fancy a swim?" asked Andy.
Since we were already soaked to the skin, that sounded like a lovely idea.
We quickly rinsed any dirt off in the showers and hopped into the pool keeping our wet clothes on.