In some ways, John Oliver could be considered the first aquatics “YouTube star.” He started as an intern at West Bend Mutual Insurance in 2008 with just a love of swimming and some knowledge of insurance/risk management. Now he’s the company’s marketing and safety specialist, making waves as creator of “The 10 Commandments of Lifeguarding.” The innovative series of short Web videos has garnered more than 10,000 views on YouTube.
Oliver started the 10 Commandments idea as a blog post, but he and
his colleagues quickly recognized that it had much greater
potential. Now, it’s a full video series, and available
online for free.
According to Oliver, it is designed to “transform [key
training information] into a more accessible resource” that
pool operators and lifeguard instructors can use as a training
tool. The commandments include lifeguarding best practices such as
“Always be rescue ready,” and “Uphold pool rules
consistently and fairly.”
Oliver grew up in Southern California and participated on a summer
swim team, but never worked as a guard. He attended the University
of Wisconsin, planning to follow his father and stepmother into the
insurance business. When he started at West Bend, the company
wanted to do more to serve its recreational clients, including
clubs, camps and fitness clubs. Oliver was charged with focusing on
aquatics. He completed a Red Crosslifeguard training course and says he
considers his instructor, Bonnie Griswold, an important
“I can call her if I have a question or need some
feedback,” Oliver says of Griswold, a longtime aquatics
professional and frequent contributor to the blog Oliver manages
for West Bend, Culture of Safety.
For now, Oliver hopes the "10 Commandments" videos will be an
important contribution to the industry, but he’s not stopping
Last year, the 25-year-old was instrumental in establishing a
partnership between West Bend and the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Pool
Safely Campaign. He says he sees a lot more potential for
additional online engagement ahead. Stay tuned!