When Emmanuel "Manny" Boston was first hired as a lifeguard for the pool at Lime Street Park, his father asked him if he was going to take a book to read at work.
"After the first class of lifeguard training, I realized that was far off base," Boston said. "Reading a book would be the farthest thing on your mind."
Boston, 21, has been a lifeguard at the pool for five summers now.
"It's never easy. You always have to be watching the water, always have to make sure everybody in the water and on the deck is safe," he said.
The Hesperia Recreation and Park District offers classes to train their lifeguards in March or April each year.
"The water is heated, but the outside temperature can be a little different," said Steve Hamm, recreation supervisor for the district.
Would-be lifeguards receive American Red Cross training in CPR and first aid.
Even for veterans like Boston, there's a mandatory training each May, before the swim season gets going. The Lime Street pool is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
"Basically going through things again, just as a refresher course," Hamm said.
One of the perks of the job is getting to know the pool patrons — 9,751 people used the pool in 2011 — including regulars who come back every summer.
"I remember this one guy, he would travel to weird places. Places no one has ever heard of in Africa, and not for business but just go," Boston said.
But there's more to lifeguarding than just sitting up on the tower or chatting with patrons, Boston said.
Lifeguards must monitor swimmers, making sure they practice the "swim test rule:" non-swimmers must stay where they can touch the bottom of the pool, and if they can swim, they may go to the deeper water. They also have to look out for kids who like to cause trouble, for the little kid who doesn't know how to swim and for the one who just really needs to go to the bathroom.
"It's like driving. It's pretty safe, but you could never lose focus, fall asleep — or read a book," Boston said. "You must always be watching."
Staff writer Beau Yarbrough contributed to this report.