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POLL: Should El Monte 'Gangnam Style' lifeguards get their jobs back?

A screenshot of El Monte lifeguards fired for appearing in their own version of K-pop star Psy's
A screenshot of El Monte lifeguards fired for appearing in their own version of K-pop star Psy's "Gangnam Style."

A group of 14 lifeguards at an El Monte aquatic center are on a quest to get their jobs back after they were fired for posting a video riffing on Psy's "Gangnam Style."

Thirteen lifeguards and the pool manager at the municipal El Monte Aquatic Center came before the City Council Tuesday in front of hundreds who came to show their support for the "Lifeguard Style" 14. Quintero said he will request an independent review to determine if the ex-workers should get their jobs back.

City officials said the video violated prohibitions on the use of city property and didn't meet employee conduct standards.

One of the lifeguards, Daniel Surmenian, wrote online about his firing ahead of the meeting. The motives for being a lifeguard may not have initially been pure — "I thought [taking a lifeguarding class] would be fun and I’d get to meet girls" — but eight summers after he started, Surmenian was still spending his summers watching the water.

"I’ve taught kids to swim, watched them grow up, and become part of the swim team and dive team. I’ve become friends with parents, lap-swim patrons, senior-swim patrons, and my work colleagues. I enjoy the daily conversation and work. I ... loved my job," Surmenian wrote.

Surmenian only appeared in the video briefly, but still got called in for a meeting with parks and recreation director Alexandra Lopez. She told Surmenian "she’d seen me in the YouTube video and that the video was disgusting and embarrassing. She didn’t add 'funny' to that list."

He was fired and forced to turn in his keys, retrieve his belongings and leave the building.

Surmenian defended the video and the lifeguards' participation. "Pool employees have committed far worse offenses and just undergone a standard protocol of write-ups, suspensions, and so forth before being fired. In the video, we were doing what we do at the pool—having fun, engaging with each other and the wider world, and, in my view, reflecting the spirit of a fun, welcoming place for people of all ages."

He's prepared for the future: "If we get our jobs back, I promise to ask for permission to be involved in any future video tributes to Korean rap stars."

Psy himself has pleaded with El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero to give the lifeguards their jobs back.

"To my new friend Psy," Surmenian wrote, "should you ever be in El Monte’s aquatic center there’s a complimentary diving lesson with your name on it."

I smell another viral video.

Watch the "Lifeguard Style" video below: