As recreation supervisor I, overseeing aquatics for the Cosumnes Community Services District Parks & Recreation Department in Elk Grove, Calif., Tom Hellmann strives to educate his lifeguards and instill a sense of confidence and professionalism. He is doing much the same thing on a broader level, as the California Park & Recreation Society Aquatic Section president.
“If you don’t get continuing, ongoing education,
you’re going to find that you’re quickly behind the
curve,” Hellmann says. “It only takes one person who
doesn’t have a successful summer, and the entire industry is
put under a microscope.”
Hellmann, 35, started swimming competitively at age 6, and later
became a lifeguard. Since then, he has held a number of pool
management and coaching positions in Northern California.
“I think my experience as a coach prepared me for the
transition to mentor,” says Hellmann, who holds a
bachelor’s degree in recreation from California State
University, Sacramento. “I try to show the staff how
lifeguarding skills can transition [into skills for other
It was actually an early mentor of Hellmann’s who showed him
that he could make a career in aquatics. Hellmann has been involved
in CPRS for more than five years and as president within aquatics,
one of his missions is to provide education opportunities to
professionals who may not be able to afford them. In 2011, he
helped coordinate the award of six CPRS scholarships to attend the
California Aquatic Management School and six to attend the CPRS
Informing aquatics professionals on various industry issues is
another responsibility that Hellmann is focused on. He is a regular
speaker at industry events, including the Association of Aquatic Professionals’ inaugural
conference this month.
For his efforts, last year Hellmann was awarded the CPRS District
II J.R. Needy Professional Award, presented annually to a
professional who has made an outstanding contribution in the field
of Parks and Recreation.