Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Ocean swims throughout California always require local lifeguards to help planning and execute safety plans.

The unusually fit and personable corp of ocean safety experts are always identified by their solid red board shorts and constant vigilance as they walk, run or drive along their section of shoreline.

They are a symbol of training, experience and consistency.

One way that the California lifeguard corp is developed is through different Junior Lifeguard programs held during the summer months up and down the coast. The Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguards was established in 1964 in Huntington Beach* to educated interested younger children and teenagers to recognized potential hazardous conditions in the ocean.

Students from the ages 9 to 17 are taught about the marine environment, First Aid, C.P.R., mutual cooperation, competition techniques, and lifesaving methods with an emphasis on safety, respect, physical fitness, instruction and discipline.

The Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguards has grown from an inaugural class of 24 over 50 years ago to an average of 1,100 students each summer. Running, swimming, and learning various lifesaving techniques takes up much of the day for the Junior Lifeguards.

The program is not only a big deal for the locals, but also students from Germany, France, England, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and Mexico as well as students from the states of Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, New York, Utah and Florida also participate.

For eight weeks from June to August, students learn to know what is expected of ocean lifeguards or simply to challenge themselves outdoors on the wide sand beaches of Southern California with their peers.

Mike Eich is the Program Coordinator and has been teaching as an instructor for 39 years. Eich is supported by experienced Coordinators Kyle Morita (22 years in the program) and Greg Luttrell (24 years in the program), and a number of other long-time instructors like Laura Zellmer who is a local environmental science teacher.

The last tryout for the Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguards is June 7th.

Applicants must be able to swim 100 yards in at least 1 minute 50 seconds (for those ages 9-13) or at least 1 minute 45 seconds (for those ages 14-17), tread water for five minutes, and swim underwater for 10 yards. For more information, visit www.juniorguard.com.

* In 2016, the City of Huntington Beach had nearly 13 million visitors on its beach where 3,731 individual rescues were made, 5 boat rescues, and 1,655 offers of medical aid were given.

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