By MADOLINE MARKHAM
Twins Alissa Thurmond and Emily Wren have spent most of their 27 summers at Homewood pools. They grew up at the Homewood Central Pool, were the inaugural class of Homewood junior lifeguards, and have been summer lifeguards for 10 years.
“They are just a part of Homewood,” Homewood Athletic Director Linda Sellers said.
“We just love being here,” Alissa said. The twins now drive about 30 minutes to the pool each day in the summer, Alissa from Helena and Emily from Trussville.
Over the past decade, they have watched kids grow up from swim lessons to swim team and junior lifeguards. Emily is the now the head lifeguard at the West Homewood Pool, and Alissa is the head lifeguard at Homewood Central Pool. The duo trains lifeguards at both pools and runs the junior lifeguard program.
Their younger sister, 19-year-old Chandler Thurmond, is now a Homewood lifeguard too. “It’s something she wanted to do, but I can’t say we didn’t influence her,” Alissa said.
The 2002 Homewood High School graduates attended Shades Cahaba Elementary School and played softball and soccer growing up in Homewood. They started going to the Homewood Central Pool with their mom at age 6, and once they could go to the pool by themselves at age 11, they walked there daily.
“Yeah, we’d go home to check in and then back to the pool, go home for lunch then back to the pool, over to a friend’s house and then back to the pool,” Alissa said.
They talk about how the comraderie and sense of trust of the people at the pool drew them back year after year. “It’s always been a family-oriented pool,” Alissa said. “The lifeguards were like older siblings to us.”
“Now we want to do for the younger kids what they did for us,” Emily said.
When they were 11, Sellers created a junior lifeguard program with them in mind to keep older kids coming to the pool. The twins were the first two trained in basic rescue skills to assist lifeguards, volunteering about 10 hours a week.
After they got shirts for the new program, a few more kids were curious and got involved later in the summer. There have been a few new junior lifeguards each summer since, but the twins are the only ones that have stayed in every summer from age 11 to 14. Most kids are active as junior guards when they are 11 and 12 and then move on to other activities.
The Red Cross certifies lifeguards at age 15, but you cannot be a lifeguard at Homewood pools until age 18, and it was at age 18 Alissa returned to their lifeguarding career, just before they both started on soccer scholarships at the University of Montevallo. Emily started working as a lifeguard the following summer.
Most people in Homewood know that they are twins now, but there is still confusion. Some people will go by both pools and ask how one of them got from one pool to another so quickly.
Alissa is a P.E. instructional assistant at Hall-Kent Elementary, and many of her students swim at the West Homewood Pool, where they see Emily. “Are you Coach Thurmond?” they ask when they first see Emily. She is now known as “Ms. Other Coach Thurmond” or “Ms. Coach Thurmond’s Sister.”
Emily now works at Hoover Parks and Recreation as a lifeguard all year, as well as teaches Red Cross certification and works as an EMT at Talladega Superspeedway. Alissa got her EMT license this year as well.
Emily’s husband, Dwight, is a fireman at Station One in Homewood, where he works with Matt Hall, another former Homewood lifeguard.
You’ll find Homewood lifeguard alumni in the military, on Homewood City Council and in Homewood schools, but as for Alissa and Emily, you’ll find them at the pool.