REDFERN: Mohsen Lack is a lifeguard and duty manager at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE), where he works four to five days a week. He is passionate about health and fitness, with experience in wrestling and futsal (indoor soccer). His “strong loves” are swimming and water safety.
Mohsen explains: “When you have the chance to save someone [from drowning], it’s the best feeling. And when you teach kids to swim, and see them go from fearing to loving the water – they become like little fish! – it’s very rewarding.
“Even if I had a thousand job options, I’d still choose this one. Being a lifeguard or a swimming coach, it’s a big responsibility, especially in Australia with so much water activity, surfing, boating and other sports.”
Born and raised in Iran, Mohsen received his International Life Saving licence in Belgium. “That was 10 years ago,” he recalls. “We need to renew our licence every year so I’ve just done that at Seven Hills. One of the tests is to swim 200 metres freestyle in under six minutes. In Aligoudarz [Iran], it’s under four minutes! I’m getting older, I’m nearly 40 now, but I can still do it,” he smiles.
The most important aspect to the job? “Paying attention to what’s happening in the pool. A child can get into trouble very quickly, even in shallow water. It can look like a child is playing or swimming underwater when she may be in distress.”
The most common error we make when it comes to freestyle swimming technique? It’s important, Mohsen says, to stretch the arm forward, to “catch the water” and to pull it close to the body – to “follow through” and complete the stroke. “And always remember to breathe out underwater, through the nose and mouth.”
Freestyle wrestling, the national sport of Iran, was something Mohsen enjoyed from age 11. By age 15 he was national champion. He maintained a top-three ranking for a period of seven years, before taking on a coaching role.
“Wrestling is extremely difficult,” Mohsen says, “a test of strength, speed, stamina and quick thinking. Competitors are matched according to age and weight – there are usually 10 weight divisions. I say to people: ‘When you try it, try it just for one minute, then you’ll see how hard it is.’”
On Friday evenings Mohsen volunteers as a wrestling coach at a club in Kings Cross. He is also keen to visit the Sydney University Wrestling Club.
Futsal is a sport enjoyed by men and women of all ages, all over the world. There are competition games held at the NCIE, and Mohsen loves to play. “I like that it’s a team sport,” he says, “and it’s for everyone.”
The conversation on fitness and agility leads to fond remembrance of skip-rope prowess. “Oh, I could skip double-speed,” Mohsen laughs. “One time I skipped without stopping for 93 minutes!”