Hi there Chloe, I met you on the beach where you work as a lifeguard…
It was actually quite funny. I was doing a patrol on the beach when you and your brother asked me about the currents and rips in the ocean. We got to talking and it all leads to this…
Yes, because my sweet human of a twin loves swimming far out and (being older) I worry. Why did you decide to become a lifeguard?
I had moved back from Korea and I was looking for something that I could be a part of. I met a friend who was doing the gruelling 8-week course, and so I decided to join. I actually quit two weeks into the course because I couldn’t handle the pressure, and felt like I wasn’t competent enough. A year later, I was fitter and decided to try again. This time I did not have quitting in mind. I was motivated by the thought of saving lives, as I’ve always been interested in helping others. Furthermore, I was determined to overcome my fear of open water and waves. The determination paid off, as I eventually conquered my fear.
How do you keep fit and healthy?
I run on the beachfront most evenings, occasionally go for a swim in the ocean as well as go to the gym in my area where I run and swim. Closer to the beginning of the summer season and retest (lifeguards have to retest once a year, in which they swim 400 meters and run 100 meters under 10 minutes) we start training every Sunday morning.
What is running through your mind when you are swimming towards someone that needs help?
Adrenaline is pumping, and all I can think of is getting the person out of the water. There is no time to think of anything else, other than doing what I was trained to do. Although there is no time to think about anything, I can still feel the fear inside of me. As a lifeguard, we risk our lives for others and we still fear the outcome of any rescue.
You are currently also studying?
Yes, I am currently a second-year student, studying Psychology and Organizational Psychology at UCT.
What does the future hold?
We will have to wait and see. Hopefully, I will work for the City of Cape Town again in December as a lifeguard. I will carry on studying, and eventually do my honours and masters in Psychology.
Something for beach-goers to keep in mind when summer rolls around again?
Over the holiday season, many non-swimmers come to the beach and want to go into the water. Many only go in knee deep, but it is deep enough to be pulled in by a rip current. Once pulled in by a rip current and one cannot swim, it is difficult to stay afloat. My advice to non-swimmers is to make sure someone on the shore is watching them at all times, ask a friend that is sitting and sunbathing. There are signs at the beach that explain how rip tides work, read it and educate yourself about getting out of a riptide. Either wait for the rip tide to lose its power or swim parallel to the current.
A message to all parents, never lose sight of your child at the beach. So many children go into the water when they are not being watched, and end up drowning or getting lost.