Here's why there are lifeguards at the Olympics

In a pool full of the world’s most elite swimmers, you wouldn’t think lifeguards are necessary. And yet, at the Rio games, a team of 75 guards are standing watch over all the aquatics events. Why? It’s just an extra (but probably unnecessary) precaution, the New York Times reports.

Even the guards know that their services likely won’t be required.

“I don’t think they will need us, but we’ll be on the lookout just in case,” 39-year-old Anderson Fertes, a Rio lifeguard, told the Times. “It’s a one-in-a-million type of event, but we’re prepared.”

Though no athlete has ever died in an Olympic pool, some aquatics events can be dangerous: Divers can smack the water, synchronised swimmers have gotten sports concussions, and water polo is a rugged contact sport. A lifeguard supervisor also told the Times that athletes run the risk of heart attacks, debilitating cramps, and crashing into the pool walls headfirst.

If all goes as planned, however, Rio’s lifeguards will never have to get out of their chairs. It’s not a particularly stimulating job — but at least they have got a great seat to watch all the Olympic action unfold.

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