Lifeguarding is BY FAR the best job in the entire world. Every May, for the past 7 years I have been brushing up on CPR and First Aid for the upcoming beach season on Long Island, NY. I am so lucky to be a part of a small group of lifeguards who overlook the beautiful quiet beaches on Fire Island. I grew up boating to the beach all summer long with my family and friends and enjoying the different world that is over there.
For those of you who have never been to Fire Island, you are missing out! Fire Island is a 26-mile long barrier Island off the South Shore of Long Island, NY. Most of the island, especially where I lifeguard, is only accessible by boat, ferry, bike, or walking/running in from a state beach at the end of the island. Everyone rides bikes or walks anywhere they need to go which isn’t far considering the island is less than half a mile wide in most places and every few towns has a small market and/or restaurants or food shacks to grab a bite to eat.
Every spring we start training, brushing up on skills, and getting back into great swimming shape to prepare. The kids out of college head to the beach a few weeks early to repair and paint the lifeguard stands, inventory equipment, and set up each individual beach with all the equipment and supplies they need. Once the season starts we see people we haven’t seen since last summer and it feels like yesterday you were hanging out with them.
The lifeguard culture that we have is amazing. Everyone is on the same page. We are there to protect the patrons. This is our utmost priority and everything we do on and off the stand contributes back to keeping people safe. This is what I love most about my job. It DEMANDS things of you. It demands that you are physically fit, it demands that you know and understand the ocean, and it demands that you are constantly working on numerous other skills to be able to react efficiently when an emergency occurs. This means we get to use a lot of our time on the beach to train.
I spend a lot of time swimming, running, lifting weights, and doing body weight exercises on the beach. I also spend a lot more time becoming a better waterman. I am body surfing, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, kiteboarding, and sailing. A lot of these activities I am not allowed to do while on duty because of public appearance but I think they are all super important to help me become a better waterman and a better lifeguard. I take it upon myself to try and learn every water activity that one could be doing at my beach. I make sure I take out all sorts of surf crafts and learn how to enter and exit the shore break with them. I learn how to ride waves with them and I learn how they all work in the ocean. This is so important because it gives me such a greater understanding of the ocean. Knowing and practicing these sports gives me confidence in all sorts of ocean conditions and gives me a better understanding of how to react in an unfamiliar emergency situation.
I am so lucky to have a summer job that demands these skills of me. It feels good to know what I do on my down time will help me in my job and help other people in the future. Thank you to my boss who encourages me to be a great waterman and thank you to all the guys and girls I work with for making this job so awesome!
In addition to lifeguarding I also work with a great coach and trainer over the summer. Bryan Krut is a lifeguard with me, a surfer, and an outstanding open water swimmer. He runs a program called Open Water Swim LI which helps train everyone from non-swimmers to top level competitors to be able to swim in open water conditions to the best of their ability. We train in a pool, calm saltwater river, and work our way up to some strong currents inside the Fire Island inlet. Check out Bryan’s website or give him a call if you are interested in becoming a better swimmer (he also has kids programs). OpenWaterSwimLI.com
Another thing I want to share with you is Raw Elements. I am in the sun all day long almost every day. I know how important it is to protect my skin and I am pretty skeptical of a lot of sunscreens when I see chemicals in there especially when I can’t pronounce the names. Through a friend I have found Raw Elements Organic Sunscreen. I have been using this stuff for 3 years now and absolutely love it. I will never by any other sunscreen again. The lotion is great for your whole body but be warned it is a bit thick and needs to be rubbed in well. The stick is awesome for my face and especially my lips. All the ingredients are organic and I feel like the even help heal my lips if I forget to put it on and they get a little burned. I highly recommend raw elements so check them out if you are looking for an organic sunscreen.
Here is a sweet video of all the ocean fun we have surrounding the wonderful world of lifeguarding!