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Lifeguard hopefuls test for summer job at the beach

Orange County Register 1/29/2023 Laylan Connelly, The Orange County Register

The office scenery doesn’t get any better: The glistening ocean, while watching beachgoers enjoy the surf and sand.

But lifeguarding is no easy task, having to watch over the crowds who flock to the area’s coastline and be ready to race into action at any sign of trouble.

“I think it gives most of our team a sense of purpose, and making a difference in the community is not a bad way to make a living,” said Huntington Beach Marine Safety Capt. Derek Peters.

Lifeguard hopefuls showed up at the Huntington Beach Pier on Saturday, Jan. 28, sprinting on the chilly sand and racing in the body-numbing waters to earn their spot this summer in one of the beach towers dotting the coast.

Huntington Beach, like many of the other lifeguard agencies across the region, are holding tryouts earlier and more frequently than in past years as recruitment has been a challenge.

Longtime lifeguards speculate several reasons for the hiring woes, everything from a need for higher, more competitive wages to conflicts with other sport schedules that don’t allow high school or college students the same flexibility they once had.

Huntington Beach started its tryouts in October, with two more in November. An earlier tryout this month was pushed to this weekend due to the storms, and their last tryouts is scheduled for Feb. 25.

“We decide to offer more employment opportunities with more tryouts,” Peters said, noting the city beach has about 35 part-time seasonal positions available.

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Ocean experience is preferred, but not mandatory, said Peters, who comes from a surfing background.

“We’ll take a person with a lot of ocean experience into strong consideration,” he said. “(But) we’re really focused on looking for applicants with our core values: humility, integrity, social awareness, passion, exceptionality and legacy.”

“That’s kind of our ethos.”

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