To the Editor:
My husband and I have owned a beach house in Surf City for the last 14 years. My kids were all under the age of 5 when we purchased our cottage – from a couple who suffered the unthinkable: One of their family members became paralyzed in a swimming accident on our beach. We told our kids from day one that the ocean isn’t your friend, that there always needed to be a level of respect (and even a little bit of fear) when it comes to the sea. We’ve been fortunate not to have ever seen a lifeguard rescue in all these years – until last Tuesday, Aug. 30.
Hurricane Gaston brought major waves and a few rip currents, something two swimmers quickly realized as they drifted farther and farther from the shoreline. My husband looked up and said, “They’re out too far,” and before you knew it, they were signaling the lifeguard, who quickly made his way out with his rescue buoy. The lifeguard reached the pair but struggled to bring them in. He motioned for another lifeguard to assist and luckily for all involved, the four made it safely back to shore.
It was a scary sight. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one standing on that beach feeling utterly useless watching the events go down. I wanted to run in and help rescue the swimmers, but as my husband, an ex-lifeguard, noted, “Anyone else out there will make it more difficult for the guards to do their job.”
And do their job they did. These two talented lifeguards deserved the standing ovation they received after bringing their struggling swimmers to shore. I spoke with both Dan and Brittany, a.k.a. the hero lifeguards, after the rescue and I have to say their demeanor amazed me: calm and cool, just another day at the beach. Dan is only 18 years old and simply shrugged when I asked how he kept his composure. Brittany told me the female swimmer was panicking so to calm her she asked about her lunch that day.
Bottom line: these two kept their cool when everyone else on the beach was losing theirs. Bravo to both these impressive lifeguards. I hope their boss is reading this.
I had trouble relaxing for the rest of the afternoon, seeing firsthand what we’ve been saying to our kids for years really rings true: The ocean isn’t your friend. I hope this letter serves as a reminder that we all need to swim within the designated areas and swim only when there’s a lifeguard on duty.
This rescue took place right as the day was winding down and right before the guards ended their shift. I can’t imagine what might have happened if those two swimmers got caught an hour later.
Ridgewood, N.J., and Surf City