The Danish lifestyle can be a captivating experience for a traveller, and it definitely should be at the top of Australian lifeguards ‘to-do’ list as a working holiday in the Northern Hemisphere.
In the 2018 off-season Tess Shannon and Jai Sheridan from the Ballina ALS region were successful in their application to partake in the annual exchange program run by the Danish Swimming Federation.
The Danish Swimming Federation season starts at the end of June, running through until mid to late August.
As a European country, Denmark is steeped in history, rolling hills and age old buildings that predate the colonisation of the country we call home. You will be pleasantly surprised as you immerse yourself into the discovery of the ‘Danish Way’ and become a part of what regularly rates as one of the happiest countries in the world.
Starting with the Danish capital Copenhagen, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Danish culture while undertaking the pre-season training requirements with the Danish Swimming Federation.
The physical training and inductions are a mandatory requirement for all lifeguards who are looking to take up the opportunity to work in Denmark. The testing has some interesting twists to what you would be used to in Australia and pushes you to expand your physical and mental abilities as a lifeguard. There is a ten metre free dive required and the pool swim is half the distance at 400m. A 150m patient drag is in there as well and a few other exercises that reflect the practical application of lifeguarding at Danish beaches.
The ALS team caught up with Jai and Tess to hear a little about their experience and potentially tempt you to contemplate the opportunities of putting your lifeguard skills towards a working holiday during the Australian off-season.
I was fortunate enough to be selected to partake in the 2018 season. It was a great opportunity for me as it filled the winter break and enabled me to continue lifeguarding after the 17/18 season finished in Australia.
The Lifeguard service in Denmark is extremely accommodating to its international workers and this season they took in 9 Australians and 1 American. As an international group, we completed the intense initial training in Copenhagen, we all went our separate ways and worked our way around the Danish coastline. Working in Denmark is a privileged opportunity – you are provided with uniform (including wetsuits, fins, masks and snorkels to keep), free accommodation at all Lifeguard posts, and all visa requirements are taken care of for you.
It’s great to get out of your comfort zone, to fly across the other side of the world and to work in an unknown environment. One thing that is a challenge is the language, Danish is one of the hardest languages to learn, but you can easily get away with a few basics, such as “Hej Hej” (Hello/Goodbye) and Tak (thankyou). Not only do you meet a wide range of people from Denmark, but you also get the opportunity to connect with Australians from various locations back home who are travelling through Europe.
Overall it was an amazing experience, I learnt a lot of different skills through their training platforms, and found the random “insitu” scenarios to be a really good skills assessment learning tool for self-development and team building.
I also had the opportunity of travelling through Europe for a few weeks during and after the season which made it all the more of an experience. Europe is all so close together, so having the ability to travel meant it was a really fun experience as well as a working holiday. It’s not a bad way to spend your winter and the pay worked out to be about $40AUS an hour (before tax).
Hopefully my experience this off-season will encourage other lifeguards to look to get the opportunity to be a Livredder in Denmark next season!
Lifeguarding in Denmark was a fantastic experience and I grew immensely as a lifeguard during my time there.
Before the season started the international lifeguards who were working the summer season took part a 2 day theory and fitness course, which included some great theory based training around lifeguarding and the nature of the beaches and work environment we signed up for.
There was a 10m free dive and a 2 km swim back to shore, so this was a good challenge for the international lifeguards as none of us had had to do this in our respective countries before.
Throughout the summer we were constantly being tested by an “insitu” team who would act out different scenarios to see how we would handle the situation given to us as well as monitoring our response time. After the scenarios had been completed we would reflect on what worked well and what could be improved.
The training and debriefing was a fantastic learning experience for me and I felt like it improved my skills as a lifeguard and kept my attention when working on the beaches across Denmark. I worked at a different beach every week and had accommodation arranged which meant I got to travel around the country and meet lots of people.
The opportunity to experience a range of different beaches while seeing more of the country was fantastic.
Overall it was so much fun and I’d strongly recommend it to all the lifeguards as you only live once and these opportunities won’t always be available.”
For more information on lifeguarding abroad please keep an eye out and read through our The GUARDian newsletters as the season progresses these opportunities will become available and be posted in our recruitment and job opportunities section as they come across our desk.
Working abroad is a fantastic opportunity to maintain and learn new lifeguarding skills, see the world and learn skills that can make you a better lifeguard. All countries and lifeguard services operate differently, depending on their coastal environments and oceans.
By working abroad you have the opportunity to represent ALS and Australia and also bring back the training and knowledge you gain whilst working with these other organisations.
If you’ve worked abroad and have some ideas on what you’ve seen working for lifeguard services, please send your ideas to Ruben Roxburgh, our Education Coordinator. Although some things won’t cross over we are all always learning and having fresh ideas and your experiences passed onto us could bring about some great new initiatives for the future of lifeguarding here in Australia.