Local newspaper, The Orange County Register, recently reported that some year-round lifeguards in Newport Beach, California are pulling compensation packages that top $200,000. The exposure of the six-figure salary and benefit packages, which include $400 a year for sunglasses and “sun protection materials” for the controversial 13-person management team is the “talk” all over Twitter. It even made its way overseas with headlines from UK publications like, “California’s Baywatch lifeguards paid up to $210,000 per year.”
Negative opinions have been voiced regarding not only the compensation, but also the retirement package, since lifeguards are able to retire after 30 years of service at the earliest age of 50 and collect 90 per cent of their salary along with full healthcare benefits.
But, as we all know, lifeguards provide a very important service, and put their lives on the line to save others. And, it isn’t easy to actually be a lifeguard!
Have you ever tried out? There are practically 100 of the strongest swimmers (competitive polo players or swimmers) trying out for one of (maybe) 22 available spots. Try-outs consist of a run-swim- run, including a jetty to pier swim – and this is through ocean water, which isn’t always the calmest of conditions!
If you actually do make it past try-outs, these lifeguards go through extensive training for 8 weeks, including EMT training, emergency response, and understanding of the ocean. Yes, the Newport Beach lifeguards are the “ELITE” of swimmers, and they are picked because they are fit and smart, guard the beach, make daily rescues and save lives.
So, if you can swim in 6 foot plus waves, rip currents, and 40 degree waters, and will risk your life in order to save someone else’s, go for it. Clearly, this isn’t a job for just anyone.
By the way, these same lifeguards made 2,190 rescues in 2010. Could you imagine if there weren’t any lifeguards around?