which carries with it a staggering amount of responsibility.
Many think being a lifeguard at the shore is all about getting a great tan and having plenty of opportunities to meet members of the opposite sex. That is true but it’s not quite as glamorous as it was portrayed in the 1976 movie titled “Lifeguard” in which Sam Elliot played a man in his 30’s who did not take life very seriously and instead chose to spend his days guarding these amazingly empty beaches in Southern California. Of course that was a movie and lifeguards around here face the daily challenge of watching beaches jammed with those who think the ocean is just like swimming in the backyard pool.
Perched atop their stands guards have the at-times awesome task of keeping their eyes on hundreds of swimmers at a time while monitoring the ever-changing surf conditions. One of the many problems is that beachgoers just don’t understand how dangerous rip tides can be and too often even good swimmers find out the hard way that they’re no match for the currents and conditions.
Ask any veteran lifeguard and they will tell you the priority is not to make rescues but prevent them and that’s where experience really pays off. While there are many students working the beaches you can’t discount the importance of having them work with and learn from those who return to the beach summer after summer. Many of them are teachers who begin work on the beach before school gets out and don’t pack it in until the bell rings in September.
I have been around lifeguards nearly all my life and will always have a tremendous amount of respect for them and the job especially the veterans who have groomed so many under their watch. They may not be like Rick Carlson (Sam Elliot’s movie character) but are just seasoned pros.