Video included at no extra charge.
They guard lives. They save lives. It’s as simple as that. They are the lifeguards on America’s shores.
We see them on their perches tanned and toned. Most of them are young, others not so much. Many of us envy their job.
But it is a very responsible job, keeping alert for all manner of danger to the public that visit our seashores.
Long Beach lifeguards must be certified to begin or continue in service. And the training and certification test is rigorous.
There is good reason for the rigorous testing, because some of them will have their mettle tested. They will have to risk their own lives to save another’s. Sometimes saving people who in panic work to take down lifeguards.
Beachgoers often get caught up in the moment of fun at the shore, they go out too far for their capabilities. Others get caught up in fierce riptides. Still others, a very large group, I’m told, walk out to chest depth. There they are often lifted by the sea and moved just far enough out to a hole or a drop off, where they can no longer stand. Where they should not be because…they never learned how to swim.
Our Long Beach lifeguards perform countless saves but there have been fatalities, thank God just a few. I’m told they lost a life in 1985, ’95 and ’05 while lifeguards were on duty. After they go off duty, when bathers are ordered out of the water, some bathers go back in…too often to their peril. But the lifeguards do respond even in off duty times to try to save these off-hour bathers.
Our Long Beach shores have added dangers…our jetties. The jagged boulders of the old jetties were difficult to climb and walk upon. The new ones have flat tops beckoning the foolish seaward. Sometimes the rocks are slanted, sometimes slippery…but always hard. One slip and you’re likely to be swept to sea by currents that run out alongside the jetty. That was the apparent fate of two visiting Brooklynites in their twenties, in the 2005 deaths.
The jetties themselves are even more dangerous now as they have yet to settle, it takes about a year to do so. They are unstable right now.
The threat is so severe that there is now a new local ordinance against mounting a jetty and signs have been emplaced to warn of the danger and expense of violating the new law. Max fine $500.
But the lifeguards are there to protect and save. To do so they must remain in good physical condition.
The annual tournament of competing sections, West, Central and East was held this past Monday at 6:30 pm at Edwards Beach. I was there to capture our men and women who stay fit and competent for our safety.
As you watch them compete you will see the determination to stay in shape, give their all. And yes, appreciate that they have one of the best jobs on the planet…Lifeguard.
My 2017 Lifeguard Tournament Video, “Lifeguard”: