Deaf lifeguard offers different perspective at Denison pool
DENISON, Texas (KTEN) — Of all the sounds at a swimming pool, William Monday can't hear any of them.
But that just might make him better at his job as a lifeguard at Waterloo Pool in Denison.
Monday is on the swim team, and he hopes to compete in college. He's also completely deaf.
"The cochlear implants didn't work for me, so I decided I don't want to use them anymore. I prefer to be deaf," Monday said.
His journey in the pool wasn't an instant success.
"He couldn't swim the length of the pool when he got here," said aquatics program coordinator Dori Smith.
In order to improve, any athlete must perfect their communication process with their coach.
"I had never been exposed to ASL [American Sign Language] before," said lifeguard and swim coach Matalynne Jones. "So when I first started coaching him ... I had a whiteboard and we would just write down everything on the whiteboard. But he was growing frustrated, and I was growing frustrated, because I wanted to be able to help more."
This frustration may have caused Monday to quit... if not for a promise he made to his team, the pool and himself.
"Coach Dori made me practice and she read me the rules,” he said. “I planned to quit, but I made a commitment for one year."
In the span of that year, Monday excelled in the water, which led to another unexpected opportunity.
"He became instantly a part of our family here, our team,” Smith said. “So when the idea came up about having him as a staff member, we just said: 'Why not?'"
So Monday grabbed a rescue tube and whistle and took his post at Waterloo Pool, bringing a different perspective to the lifeguard chair.
"Without hearing the distractions of the pool, the sounds and the screaming and the kids, he's really able to focus on watching each individual swimmer," Smith said.
That focus recently helped him spot someone in need.
"A little girl, she was about 7, she got in a little too deep and I jumped in for her," Monday said.
Jones may have started as Monday's coach, but she's learned plenty from her former pupil and now current teammate.
"I have learned a lot of different words, and we can have conversations together, and that just makes it easier for us to work together," Jones said.
Since Monday joined the staff, Waterloo Pool has already seen a handful of other deaf swimmers jump in and learn themselves.