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Ocean City

Physical fitness key for an OC Beach Patrol lifeguard

Kristin Joson


Contributing Writer


(June 7, 2013) The Ocean City Beach Patrol currently employs close to 200 people. Surf Rescue Technician (SRT) is the title that our lifeguards earn once they complete Surf Rescue Academy and you see them wearing their red uniforms and manning the 300-pound white lifeguard stand. Each SRT is a member of one of the 17 crews that stretch from the inlet jetty to the Delaware state line.

Each crew functions as a team and has five or six lifeguard stands, with the crew chief stand located in the center. In addition to the crew chief, there is an assistant crew chief and up to six additional SRTs who work together to cover all stands in the crew from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. as well as days off, lunch breaks and mandatory workouts.

Yes, mandatory workouts! They not only have to meet certain requirements to begin the summer season with the patrol, they also have to work out for a minimum of 20 minutes per day in the midst of their guarding shifts.

Starting daily at 10 a.m., SRTs working a 4.5-hour shift begin their day making sure that the entire area of the beach overseen by their crew is covered and prepared for the day. Once all setup and administrative tasks are completed, they begin relieving each SRT in the crew who is on a 7.5-hour shift.

Once each SRT is relieved, he or she is required to perform an ordinance check on the beach by walking (jogging) in among the beach patrons checking for unsafe conditions and infractions, followed by a mandatory workout prescribed by the crew chief.

The workouts usually consist of swimming, running or both. They can change daily at the discretion of the crew chief who runs the workouts in a certain area. If it’s extremely hot, then it’ll likely be a water workout day, but on a day when the wind is high and temperature moderate, there are all types of various workout activities the crew chief will devise.

Once all crewmembers have completed their morning duties and workout, the “lunch rover” will replace each SRT who is working the full day for a 30-minute lunch break beginning at noon.

As an added incentive for the 17 crews to work hard at training and stay in top physical shape, the patrol holds an annual crew competition each year in August.

One of the reasons we do that is so that the crews will want to practice together. Sometimes they’ll do it before or after the workday. The Beach Patrol also organizes 1-mile swims in the mornings or evenings when the guards are off duty and programs in which members can become certified for higher positions within the patrol.

This is one of the ways that our guards move up the ranks. They become certified in the different programs so they can apply for another position the next year. Our organization is about encouraging our employees to stay in shape, to continue training and to get better. As a bonus, all this extra work that they do off the clock helps them when they’re actually working.

Being in top physical condition is not only critical to do the daily job of guarding but it also comes in handy for competitions. Some patrol members compete in contests that are held around the area and in other parts of the country for lifeguards.

Each year we send a team of OCBP female guards to women’s competitions and we also send a competition team consisting of males and females to participate in the United States Lifeguard Association Regional competitions.

In addition, we participate in the lifeguard Olympics, which is held in Rehoboth Beach every year. Teams are selected through tryouts to represent the OCBP. All those who compete are scheduled off and receive no compensation or support from Town of Ocean City funds although many of our teams do receive support from local businesses. All of these competitions offer an opportunity for lifeguards throughout the region to display their physical fitness.

So, when you see the guards doing strange maneuvers on the beach, now you know they are probably either doing a mandatory workout devised by their creative crew chief or training for an upcoming competition . . . or both!

But rest assured, even though they are on a break and working out, another guard is covering for them so that all 10 miles of Ocean City are fully guarded from 10 a.m. until 5:30 pm. every day regardless of weather.

If the lifeguards are not on duty, then its not safe to swim . . . always remember to keep your feet in the sand until the lifeguards in the stand! We stay physically fit to protect you but we can only do that if we are on duty.

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