We're not kidding: There are lifeguards at the Olympic pool

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Why are there lifeguards at the Olympic pools in Rio?

It is safe to say Michael Phelps has no need for a lifeguard watching over him in the Olympic pool but the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 18 gold medals among his career haul of 22, will have one anyway at the Rio Games.

And so will the rest of the world's greatest swimmers in a situation that has caused some mirth in the run-up to the competition.

SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about the Summer Olympics

"It is a Brazilian law that any public pool over a certain size has to have lifeguards," Ricardo Prado, the sport manager for aquatics, told Reuters.

"We wish we didn't have them either (at the Games) but we have to have them."

All are certified, men and women with red and yellow uniforms and equipped with whistles and floats.

But, stargazing from some of the best seats in the house, they are undoubtedly less stressed than watching over their usual crowd.

"It's really one of the funniest things I've seen in the Olympic Games so far," New Zealand swimmer Matthew Stanley told reporters after a training session.

"Have any of you guys been to Bali before? You see the lifeguards and they sit up on the tower drinking Bintangs (beer) all day. That's what it reminded me of.

"If anyone has a heart attack, you're going down."

The main pool was closed to training on Friday as divers checked underwater cameras for Saturday's opening heats and medal round but some swimmers still had a chuckle.

"After the warm-up this morning it was pretty insane, I could have imagined that a lifeguard might have been needed to be used," grinned Tamsin Cook, at 17 the youngest swimmer on the Australian team, as she left a crowded training pool.

"But yeah, it is quite funny."

Britain's Jazz Carlin, heading back to the village after a workout, told Reuters she had not even noticed the lifeguards but was quite used to them in England.

"It's a bit different. I guess it's always nice to have someone watching," she said.

"We train at the university pool (in Bath) and the public can come in as well so they make sure they have got lifeguards there."

For the record, no swimmer in Olympic history has ever needed rescuing, not even Equatorial Guinea's Eric 'The Eel' Moussambani who enchanted, amused and worried spectators at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Moussambani had only started swimming months before the Olympics in a 20 meter hotel pool and could practice only once a week because he could not afford the fee.

He struggled in the 100 freestyle, almost stopping in the water, but made it to the end. Unassisted.

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Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016. / AFP / Leon NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Spain's flag bearer Rafael Nadal leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016. / AFP / Leon NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 05: Members of the United States team take part in the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on August 5, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 05: Members of the China Olympic team take part in the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on August 5, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Michael Phelps carries the flag of the United States during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Team Cuba arrives during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Team Burundi arrives during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Luguelin Santos carries the flag of Dominican Republic during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Team Canada wave as they walk into the stadium during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 05: Members of the Spain Olympic team take part in the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on August 5, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 5, 2016: Fireworks go off over the Maracana Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
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