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Pensacola Beach Seeking Lifeguards

Photo via Flickr//Ben Ferenchak

Aspiring lifeguards should mark Saturday, January 30 on their calendars, for tryouts to work at Pensacola Beach.

Senior Lifeguard Alex Johnson is making the call to join him at 6:30 that morning at the University of West Florida Aquatic Center. But he warns that the requirements for employment will be challenging.

“A 600 yard swim in the pool in ten minutes or less, followed by a 1.5 mile run in 12 minutes or less,” Johnson said.” If they pass that, they’re guaranteed an interview. If they’re selected and the meet every requirement – at least 16 years old, having a valid driver’s license – then we’ll put them through 80 hours of training out here on the beach. Passing that, they’ll be ready to work.”

Starting pay is $14.15 per hour. Johnson says while applicants don’t need it, an American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification is preferred. He’s also expecting a good turnout that day, of up to 30 men and women.

Besides the physical tryout, the applicants will be reminded – in no uncertain terms – that if hired they will not be guarding the country club pool.

“If that’s what people have in mind, then this job is definitely not for them,” said Johnson. “If someone is hired out here, they will have to make rescues, they will have to swim in the surf. They will have to go out in red flag and rip currents and pull drowning people in. It’s something that will happen.”

Johnson is hoping that 2016 is a bit more sedate than last tourist season, when lifeguards made close to 600 rescues from the Gulf. Three drownings were reported at Pensacola Beach.

Even the best lifeguards can’t do it all. They depend on the good sense and judgement of the visitors to the beaches. To that end, the lifeguards’ top goal is to protect, but also educate. Johnson points to a couple of key guidelines.

“Number one, swim near a lifeguard, that your best bet,” said Johnson. “Number two is be aware of rip currents how to escape from them.”

More information on beach safety is at Pensacolabeachlifeguard.com. If your swimming ability is in doubt, then there’s always the sound across from the Gulf of Mexico.

Once again, tryouts will be held at 6:30 a-m on Saturday, January 30 at the UWF Aquatic Center. Applicants are urged to arrive about 15 minutes early, and Johnson says be sure to bring your paperwork.

For more information you can reach Senior Lifeguard Alex Johnson at (850) 503-1799 or at adjohnson@myescambia.com.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.