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Paralympic medalist at Jesse Owens Pool


South LA native Jamal Hill

California has historically been a breeding ground for high-level athletes across every sport, from Hall of Famers to Olympic-level champions; California has always been at the forefront of groundbreaking moments in sports history.  South L.A. native and Team USA Paralympic Medalist Jamal Hill has returned to his stomping grounds to visit Jesse Owens pool to discuss the importance of learning to swim and how that current life skill has propelled him to greatness.

“Being back here and having the opportunity of being a beacon of light to the community and new lifeguards as they elevate themselves in different aspects of life is a blessing,” Hill said as he spoke about what it felt like coming back home during his media tour for the upcoming Olympics. “As a kid, I didn’t know I would be a lifeguard; it just happened. I continued with my swimming skills and propelled them into being in the Olympics. Whether it was luck of the draw, or fate either way, I wouldn’t have believed it as a teenager if you told me that was my future.”

Hill takes great pride in being able to tell people that Jesse Owens’s swimming pool was the launch pad for him in life, not only as an athlete but as a community leader and lifeguard. Hill started learning to swim at a young age but with extreme adversity. Hill was only 10 years old when his body failed him. He experienced total paralysis, and doctors considered amputating his right arm, as he was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT). This hereditary neurological condition can result in progressive loss of muscle tissue and touch sensation in the body. With the encouragement of his parents, Hill persevered through the pain and obstacles not only to recover from the disease enough to swim again but to reach the peak and maintain his status as one of the top international swimmers. 

Hill has also created the Swim Up Hill organization to provide innovative swim instruction methods to individuals and organizations in the aquatic industry. Jesse Owens swimming pool is also looking to increase its current capacity of lifeguards to help teach classes and wants to spread an overall awareness to the community about the importance of swimming. 

“Since October 2023, we launched unprecedented aggressive recruitment and outreach efforts at over 267 high school and community colleges and 176 community events countywide to provide youth the ability to become lifeguards and learn how to swim.” Norma E. Garcia-Gonzalez, Director of LA Country Parks, explained why they have focused on expansion of lifeguards and teaching swimming lessons to the community. “ Our goal is to ensure that all youth 16 years and older have the opportunity to have promising careers within the County. Our commitment is to hire diverse youth and foster an inclusive, safe, and fun summer pool season.

The hourly wages for lifeguards range from $23.87 to $30.50. Potential lifeguards must pass testing requirements to be considered for the position. They also offer beginning classes for all ages and people looking to be lifeguards.