- Mikayla Mott, 27, is a swim instructor and founder of Swim Hamptons, a private lifeguarding company.
- She and her team of 10 are hired to teach swim lessons and lifeguard at private pools and oceanfront beaches.
- Here's what her job is like, as told to freelance writer Claire Turrell.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
I've lived in the Hamptons my whole life. I was born into a family of lifeguards and became an ocean lifeguard when I turned 15. I now run my own lifeguarding company, Swim Hamptons, which provides lifeguards for private parties. Many of my clients are celebrities and owners of FTSE 100 companies, and have luxurious pools at their multi-million dollar estates.
East Hampton, Montauk, and Sag Harbor are the main three hubs of the Hamptons, within a two-hour drive of New York City.
Sag Harbor is posh, expensive, yet relaxed. East Hampton attracts an older crowd and Montauk is a younger scene with a surf lodge. I've seen the cast of "The Real Housewives of New York" in the Hamptons, but as yet, we haven't worked for them.
People usually tend to arrive on May Day and leave on Labor Day, but due to COVID-19, a lot of New Yorkers arrived last summer and stayed.
Lifeguarding is a way of life for locals who live in the Hamptons. When you're old enough to get a summer job, you either become a lifeguard or work at a restaurant.
I started as a private swim teacher, and got so many requests I decided to launch my own lifeguarding company in 2016. We're now a team of 10. We mainly teach children, but have also taught folks over 75 as well as adults training for triathlons. From May until September, our lifeguards work eight-hour shifts, seven days a week.
The majority of my clients don't live in the Hamptons full-time - they usually rent a beach house or own a second home.
2021 has been particularly busy as many kids weren't able to go to summer camp, so parents would book us to keep them occupied.
We work all over the Hamptons and the vacation traffic can be intense - it can take an hour to drive between appointments. If I do have any spare time between lessons, I'll try to keep my fitness levels up by going for a run. I've been lucky, but some ocean lifeguards can suffer from torn rotator cuffs and ankle sprains from running at full speed across the sand.
It's not unusual for our clients to have multiple pools.
They may have a lap pool, a family pool, and a saltwater pool. One of my swim clients has an infinity pool with the ocean on one side and the bay on the other. At the edge is a mini golf course and then a boat dock.
A different client's pool turns into the Fountains of Bellagio. There's a fountain in the middle of the pool, jets of water shoot across the surface, and waterfalls descend into the water from around the edge. Another client's pool features piped underwater music.
Besides swim lessons, we're also booked for beachfronts and private pool parties.
We work at a lot of kids' birthday parties so the parents can relax and have a drink without watching the pool. The kids' parties often include bouncy castles, magicians, petting zoos, and even mermaids in the pool.
We're also available for adult parties, where we've had some interesting party requests, including working from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. for a prom party and being asked to dress as Oceanus, the Greek Titan god of the sea. With that booking we were asked specifically to send "good-looking males."
We've also acted as lifeguards for oceanfront homes and set up lifeguarding stations on the beach. The biggest concerns for ocean work are rip currents. The confidence of some people doesn't always match their ability.
We rarely pull people out, and when we do it's kids who can't swim.
Luckily, we haven't had any situations of people being drunk trying to get in the pool.
The base salary for a lifeguard in the Hamptons is around $20 to $25 per hour. However, if they work for a private company they can earn up to $75 per hour for private swimming lessons and up to $150 per hour for a private pool party. If it's a large pool party, we insist that the client hires more lifeguards, our ratio is 10 people per lifeguard.
The hours are long, but I love helping people learn how to swim. And when I'm hired as a lifeguard, I'm proud to know I'm helping people and providing a potentially life-saving service.