by Kailey Aiken
Another hectic July week on the beach has come and gone. Saturday turned out to be one of the most beautiful and busiest beach days so far, which of course meant lots of time in the water and whistling for lifeguards. With extensive preventative lifeguarding, lifeguards at Beach 97th Street were able to avoid going in for a case (rescue) all day, which is virtually unheard of for a Saturday there. We were lucky to have fairly calm waters, but it was a long day on the beach, nonetheless. Sunday’s clouds and afternoon rain kept most people home and gave us all a nice break between the chaos of Saturday and Monday.
Monday may have been surfers’ paradise, but it definitely was not lifeguards’. Three to five foot waves, rip currents that’ll pull your feet out from under you, and 85° weather with not a cloud in the sky made for a tough day of lifeguarding. We spent more time standing and whistling on the chair than we did actually sitting in it, and our walking time was more of a swimming time, since most of us spent it in the water with a buoy, trying to herd the crowds of people out of the rip currents—and occasionally dragging the weaker swimmers back to the safety of the sandbar. We do our best, but with the volume of people who show up to Beach 97th street, it’s nearly impossible to get everyone to listen. Maybe megaphones could be the newest addition to our equipment.
Two patrons who ignored the whistling and frantic hand motions of lifeguards naturally ended up getting caught in the rip on Beach 96th street, and quickly began struggling once they were pulled out past where they could stand. Case whistles were blown, and lifeguards rushed into the water, some without ever getting out from a previous case (rescue) and were able to secure both victims with buoys. The problem was that the rip was so strong, we had to swim the victims almost two blocks over to get out of it before beginning to swim in. The reel was brought out and we formed a human chain to pull the victims (and ourselves) safely to shore. Once we got out of the water, a group of beachgoers had gathered at the shoreline to congratulate us on a successful save.
The 2023 Surf Lifesaving Championships is less than a week away now: Tuesday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. at Beach 106th Street. All are welcome to come and support. Each shack has put together a roster of their competitors for the events, and everyone is excited for a fun night of friendly competition.
This Monday at softball 117 beat Uptown, while Midtown took down Downtown. There’s only one more week of the regular season, and then playoffs and the championship will take place. There’s lots to look forward to for Rockaway lifeguards in the coming weeks!