MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- Twentynine Palms is renowned for its sweltering temperatures as summer reaches its peak. During this time of year, Combat Center residents find ways to keep cool and stay active in the rising temperatures.
Whether it is children enjoying their summer vacation or Marines looking for a way to cool off while on liberty, escape from the heat can be found at the various swimming facilities on base. Swimming offers a great aerobic workout and is an exercise that challenges the swimmer, by requiring the use of the whole body.
“In the pool, you can get more of a muscle workout,” said Staff Sgt. Theodore C. Hutchins, aquatic staff non-commissioned officer in charge, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School. “In the water, you are working more muscles than you would at the gym focusing on only one muscle in the same amount of time.”
Learning to swim is something that can be done at any age or fitness level. Lifeguards assist in swimming clinics held at the training tank for children learning how to swim or Marines who may need help with their stroke.
“The most important thing is becoming comfortable in the water,” Hutchins said. “Young Marines who need help swimming can come to the lifeguards to try to strengthen their swimming. We also have time reserved for unit training, so if company or platoon commanders want to come in and schedule training for their Marines they can.”
For swimmers who already have the basics down, different drills can be found online that will help them to further develop their swimming. Investing in equipment such as a snorkel, paddle and fins can also help to bring training to the next level.
“As lifeguards we offer different training courses and water sports for those looking to improve their swimming,” Hutchins said. “A lot of the time, its people who don’t understand their swimming limits or capabilities that are most at risk in the water.”
Safety in the water should be the priority at all times and patrons should never swim alone without lifeguards. Sunblock and proper hydration are paramount and should be stressed even on cooler days with less sun.
“Hydration is the biggest key as well as sunblock to stay safe during the summer. Wearing shirts or anything to protect you from the sun is important,” Hutchins said. “Often swimmers will come out here thinking they’ll be really good but sometimes it’s the opposite and they are really struggling. It’s up to us lifeguards to ensure we keep our eyes on them.”
Regardless of an individual’s swimming ability, a trip to the base pool can be a refreshing and effective way to stay cool and fit during the hottest time of year.