Although Joseph Candela is a self-proclaimed "Math and Science guy," the fourth-year Summit Family Aquatic Center lifeguard is also a "pool rat" who spent many summer days at the community pool before becoming a lifeguard in 2007.
"I came here every day in the summer," Candela said. "When I was old enough, I thought that lifeguarding would be a fun way to make some money. I spent most of my time here anyway, so it just made sense. Lifeguarding is great because you get to be outside all day and enjoy the fresh air."
Candela grew up in Summit and was a 2009 graduate from Saint Peter's Prep in Jersey City. The 18-years-old is a rising sophomore at Johns Hopkins University, where he is a Pre-Med and Applied Mathematics major with a packed schedule of 19 credit hours this coming semester. With both math and science on his side, Candela sees a number of career options ahead of him.
"If the job market is doing well after I graduate, I'll just go with my mathematics major and do something right away, whether it's teach or work in insurance or finance," Candela said. "Who knows? I may try out Business School. Right now, though, I definitely plan to go to Med School eventually, but I may take a couple years to work first."
Candela has lifeguarded at the Summit Family Aquatic Center for four years and received his original lifeguard certification at the Summit YMCA.
This summer, he was chosen as an SFAC lifeguard captain by Judith Leblein Josephs, the Director of the Department of Community Programs in Summit. As captain, Candela must fulfill traditional lifeguard roles and also mentor less-experienced SFAC guards.
"As captains, Bre (Repsha) and I make sure the lifeguards are doing their jobs," Candela said. "We organize the rotation–from cleaning to sitting stand–and we deal with any issues that the patrons have."
Candela's SFAC responsibilities include not only lifeguarding and supervising other guards, but also teaching group swimming lessons for various ages, beginning at age three.
"I love giving lessons because the kids are so much fun to work with," Candela said. "It's cool to see how much they improve and, for the younger kids, become more and more comfortable in the water."
While it's Candela's job to make sure SFAC visitors remain safe and injury-free, there was one instance when the lifeguard needed some medical assistance himself.
"I went off the diving board and swam with my eyes closed until I hit my head against the wall," Candela said. "I didn't think too much of it at first, so I went back on stand for the rest of the day. But after a while my nose started swelling up and my eyes got darker--like I was getting a black eye--so I thought I better go to the doctor. Turns out I broke my nose."
When Candela isn't lifeguarding at the SFAC this summer, you might find him vacationing on Long Beach Island or tuning into one of his favorite television shows, House.
"I don't have too much free time this summer because I work here five days a week, but when I'm not working, I like to golf, hang out with my friends, and go down to the beach," Candela said. "My family has a house on LBI so it's nice to go there and just relax."
Stay tuned to Patch this summer for more profiles of SFAC senior lifeguards.