Name: Kelsie G.
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Occupation: Lifeguard, San Diego
Motto: “Live slow, die whenever.” (It’s a joke.)
Reflection on the job:
I’m wildly clumsy on land. I’m much better in the water. Training for beach lifeguarding consisted of a series of timed PTs, and every day I started with a run/swim/run. The experience was incredibly rewarding, and I pushed myself to my limits and gained an expansive understanding of the profession. And my dad and all his brothers were lifeguards, so the last thing on my mind was failing.
There’s a sense of community with your fellow lifeguards. I’m never hard-pressed to find a workout buddy, or someone to help me get checked off on a piece of equipment, or help me with my knot-tying skills. The little moments of community on shore speak to the nuts and bolts of lifeguarding, which is gearing up to make rescues. When I head out to save someone from a rip current, and I realize halfway the rip has started to flash, I turn around and already see my teammates heading into the water to back me up and save the rescue the other swimmers. That puts a smile on my face.
Constantly challenge yourself to achieve more. It’s more than just fitness, driving trucks on the beach, and taking jet skis into the surf. If you want to be a lifeguard, you have to be willing and able to contribute to a team.
Some calls make you laugh. I was sitting in my tower, and I noticed two men slowly drifting out in a rip. They were fine for a while, but they started to kick when they realized how far out they were. I paddled out to redirect them around the rip. One of them got tangled up in his boogie board, and that’s when I realized this dude spoke literally no English. My friend grabbed the other guy, and I helped my guy untangle himself from the board. He got in the correct position just as a set rolled in, and he’s clinging to the board for dear life as dumpy waves broke on us. We caught a wave and finally made it to beach. He rolled off, stood up, looked around for a second, and pumped his fists into the air like he just accomplished something. It was incredible. We didn’t understand a word we were saying to each other, and we both just walked away unscathed. That one sticks in my mind more so than any heart-pounding rescue because it just made me laugh.
This past summer was full of training for me. I do anticipate applying for a full-time position and participating in the Advanced Academy this winter. I’ll be competing with over 40 other highly qualitied seasonal lifeguard for limited spot. For now, I’m just prepping mentally and physically for the honor of being selected.