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posted: 7/25/2014 1:30 PM

Oak Brook lifeguard receives Golden Guard Award

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  • Katie Klemp, 19, a lifeguard at the Oak Brook Park District, is the recent recipient of the National Golden Guard Award from Ellis and Associates, Inc.

    Katie Klemp, 19, a lifeguard at the Oak Brook Park District, is the recent recipient of the National Golden Guard Award from Ellis and Associates, Inc.
    Courtesy of Oak Brook Park District

By Jessica Cannaday
Oak Brook Park District

For the second time in just four months, an Oak Brook Park District lifeguard has received the Jeff Ellis & Associates, Inc. Golden Guard Award.

Katie Klemp, 19, has been named one of the top lifeguards in the nation, an honor that is reserved for one in 1,000 guards across the country.

In March, Darius Melton, 23, was recognized as the Oak Brook Park District's first Golden Guard recipient.

"It's as if lightning has struck twice here at the Oak Brook Park District," Executive Director Laure Kosey said. "We couldn't be more proud to have young staffers so dedicated to safety and excellence."

The Ellis & Associates Golden Guard Award is presented to exemplary lifeguards employed at water parks, city parks, or hotels throughout the United States. The selection process involves a rigorous review that includes undercover video surveillance of individual lifeguards in order to accurately evaluate their professional diligence.

Each auditor of Ellis & Associates is only allowed to give a certain number of Golden Guard Awards each season.

Klemp is a recent addition to the Oak Brook Park District aquatic team. The 19-year-old college student has grown up with a passion for taekwondo, and has proved to be a formidable competitor.

Klemp's love of taekwondo doesn't end with competition. She is certified by the ATA and Olweus as an official Bully Prevention Instructor and is dedicated to helping communities and individuals reduce bullying behavior.

Just this May, Klemp decided to step out of her comfort zone to become a certified lifeguard with the Oak Brook Park District. When she found out she had been recognized as a Golden Guard, she was surprised.

"I'm pretty tough on myself, so I'm always pushing myself to do better and give more, and I'm really proud to have accomplished something outside of martial arts," she said.

According to Jessica Gray, Oak Brook Park District's aquatic center manager, the recent staff recognition demonstrates that the district strives for its employees to be the very best they can be.

"Having two Golden Guards on staff makes me extremely proud, not only of Katie and Darius, but also of our entire training and managerial staff," Gray said. "It truly shows how well everyone comes together to create a safe, supportive, and encouraging environment at the Oak Brook Park District."

"It is apparent that the entire staff embodies the idea of setting the standard in aquatic safety, and swimmers who frequent this aquatic facility are afforded the highest degree of swimmer protection currently available for the aquatic industry," said Richard A. Carroll, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Jeff Ellis & Associates, Inc.

For more information on Oak Brook Park District's aquatic center, visit