My first year as an Ocean Lifeguard in Florida I learned so much about the Ocean it was incredible. Sure I have surfed all over the world and thought I knew the ocean but when you spend 8 hrs a day on the beach and a good portion of that time in the water. You see and learn things that are really a privilege to a select few. The ocean has always fascinated me, I studied oceanography in college and watched Cousteau with great interest.
Earned all my PE credits surfing! Yes!
Being a first year Lifeguard and being over 45 might be a task for some people. You have to pass a written test. Oh and run a mile under 8 minutes on the beach, after you run the mile you swim a mile in the ocean, then you tread water in the ocean for 1 hour,in succession, you get to do these things. So for those who think becoming a Lifeguard is easy it is ! If you can do those 3 simple things.
The tests were easy compared to my first year. We ran 2-3 miles a day on the sand and because I was the newbie I had to swim the red buoy out that marks the swim area. Because the boys liked me so much they tied a cinder block on the buoy for me to drag about 1/4 of a mile out to sea and drop it everyday. You cant used your surf board to take it out it will scratch your board!
Being a surfer this is the kind of stuff I love. Being in the ocean getting paid to train everyday. One day I had to tote the rock as the guys liked to say, when I glanced toward shore and I see one of the Lifeguards waving frantically then he starts blowing the horn. This never happened before so I wasn't sure if they were just tring to scare me or what. Most of the guys and girls I Lifeguarded with were in their 20s and had several years of experience.
I looked up and saw a 6-8 ft shark coming at me mouth wide open, Jaws Style! You know what I mean. He was chacing fish I am pretty sure. I dropped the rock with buoy attached turned around and began to swim slowly towards shore.
My first thought was I hope if he get me he takes my head off and kills me quick, I didnt want to be part of a feeding frenzy. I have seen dozens of sharks eat other sharks. Its not pretty.
It was creepy probably the only time in my life where I may have felt fear in the ocean. As I swam in I felt these slimy things touch me under neath the water and on both sides. I thought for sure it was the shark and his friends. I just kept swimming then I noticed I was surrounded by Manatees even underneath me.
They had me in the cradle like a little baby. They stayed with me all the way to shore. The shark barely had brushed me. The Lifeguards were amazed and stated they had never seen Manatees do anything like that before. I can hardly tell the story because I dont really understand why they protected me.
I didnt feel any more special that any other person on this planet. Until that day.
The Lifeguards said that I didnt have to tote the rock out everyday anymore. It didnt bother me I still took it out everyday for the rest of the season. I saw Manatees almost everyday, I treat them like people I guess I always have ;-)
Oh Man This Lifeguard Job is Tuff!