Emma, Payton and Mason Harmon live in the same house, but the trio gets to see each other more than your average siblings.
The Harmons are among the staff of at Jones Aquatic Center this summer. Emma, the oldest, serves as the pool manager. Payton, the middle child, is the head lifeguard and Mason, the youngest, is a lifeguard along with doing various other jobs.
“It’s great,” Emma said. “You spend 24/7 together.”
“There’s a lot of ups-and-downs, but we power through it sometimes,” Payton added. “(I) go home and take a break from work and work is still at home. All of them are here.”
This is the second summer that all three Harmon siblings have worked at JAC.
“I was excited,” Emma said. “We tacked Mason on to the ‘Harmon Train’ and it’s been a great ride out here with everyone. It’s even better to walk through the front door at home and see them again. It’s nice to have Payton as a collaborative co-worker. We do a lot together and keep Mason in line.”
Emma started at JAC when she was 16 and has worked her way up the ranks, with her two brothers following in her footsteps. The oldest Harmon has spent every summer since then working at JAC, while attending Kansas State University.
“My first summer that I worked here, I had really great role models and a good management team,” Emma said. “I was an athlete in high school and I treated them like coaches, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do and I wanted to be like them someday. Ever since then, I’ve been pushing myself and getting myself to that point.”
When Payton turned 16, his mother suggested that he get a job. He didn’t want to work year-round in fast food and decided to follow in Emma’s footsteps. Ever since then, he’s worked at JAC. Currently, Payton is at home working after his first year of school at the University of Texas-Dallas.
“I thought it would be a good job and join the team,” Payton said.
Mason, a soon-to-be junior at Emporia High, is on the boys’ swimming team and has a passion for swimming. When he turned 15, he got certified to become a lifeguard and became the third Harmon to work at JAC.
“I just love everything about out here,” Mason said. “When you love swimming, you love the kids and being surrounded by water. I’m 24/7 surrounded by water. I live at the pool, I work at the pool and I compete in the pool.”
Even when one of the siblings is at home from a day off work, there might be a time where one of them might get called in to do something.
“The one thing I’ve learned about from working here — you’re always on duty,” Mason said. “I didn’t work (Monday), but I got called in to catch a snake in the pool. That’s how you do it.”
“Mason’s our handyman,” Emma added. “There’s always something going on.”
Emma said every day as a manager is not the same.
“People are always getting bloody toes,” she said. “(Lifeguard) rotations need fixed up. It’s a day-by-day scenario. It’s always busy.”
Payton said being the head lifeguard is a mixture of what the oldest and youngest Harmon siblings are accomplishing.
“(With) Emma as the manager, I get to play a big role in manager duties, but also, I have a huge role in lifeguarding and just helping assist the lifeguards,” he said.
For Mason, he just does what he’s told.
“(I’m) a first responder, a babysitter and a janitor,” he said with a laugh.
Each day varies, the Harmons said, based on how many lifeguards are working at any given time.
“If we’re super busy, we’ll have everybody out on the stands (and) two (lifeguards) on break at a time,” Payton said. “If we’re not so busy, we’ll cut it down to where more people can be on break and you’re out there for a shorter amount of time. We’re always rotating effectively and making sure that we’re scanning and watching for anything that could happen.”
“(Payton) does a really good job ... with his checklist,” Emma added. “Making sure that lifeguards are scanning properly, using the equipment properly and rotating properly. Overall, (just) monitoring their effectiveness as a lifeguard.”
Even being in their midst, it took awhile for their other coworkers to realize that Harmons were all siblings.
“When they do, they’re like, ‘Oh my god, that’s crazy,’” Emma said. “‘Are there any more of you?’ It’s fun to work with your siblings.”
With the oldest two Harmons attending college out of Emporia, they knew it was going to be a good time to bond and see each other.
“We knew this summer was coming,” Emma said.
JAC is open noon - 6 p.m. Monday - Thursday and noon - 8 p.m. Friday - Saturday, with a Twilight Swim available from 5 - 8 p.m. throughout the weekend.