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Our Times / Orange County Communities | COVERING NORTH
COAST, CENTRAL, AND NORTHWEST CITIES : SEAL BEACH

City Expects About 50 Swimmers to Try Out for Lifeguard Training

As many as 18 who show proficiency in the sand and surf could win a spot in the program, but even that doesn't guarantee a job.

May 19, 2000|ALEX MURASHKO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

At a time when summer internships with dot-com companies can mean stock-option riches, serving as a lifeguard on Orange County beaches may not be as attractive as it once was.

Last summer, county lifeguard officials reported having trouble recruiting enough lifeguards and attributed much of the problem to low or moderate pay for a physically demanding job with lots of responsibility.

However, in Seal Beach, the lifeguard department seems to be winning the numbers game this year.

On Saturday, the department expects about 50 applicants to demonstrate their physical prowess while vying for a chance to enter its training program.

Applicants will be shooting for their best times in a 1,000-meter ocean swim and a 600-meter run-swim-run race. At stake: 16 to 18 openings for the department's three-weekend, 105-hour program, which may or may not lead to a permanent job.

"The first thing we look for is someone that's physically capable of running on the sand all day and able to handle the surf," said Lifeguard Lt. Ross Pounds, 27, who is nearing his ninth summer with the department.

Although the city's 2 1/2 miles of beaches pose challenges, such as keeping harbor boat traffic away from swimmers, surfers and windsurfers, Pounds said the rewards for working with a relatively small department are great. Twenty lifeguards are on duty during the day in summer months, rotating from a staff of 40. There is one main tower headquarters and seven lifeguard stands.

"I can't think of a better place to work," Pounds said. "We get to know each other really well during circumstances that can be extreme."

The tryouts begin at 9 a.m. at the lifeguard headquarters by the pier. Information: (562) 430-2613.

Alex Murashko can be reached at (714) 966-5974.

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