Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The dedication and daring of ocean lifeguards has always impressed us.

From the first generation of female lifeguards like Cindy Cleveland and Siga Rose to the early lifeguards in Santa Monica, California, men and women from Sydney, Australia to Ocean City, New Jersey to Denmark and South Africa has been heroic.

After reading Craig Lockwood‘s description of Pete Peterson in a 2005 Surfers Journal article, one can say they broke the mold with the legendary California waterman.

Peterson defined what would become the paradigm of the West Coast’s classic waterman. Peterson’s life and livelihood were the sea. There was no ocean skill he didn’t possess. He swam competitively, surfed, bodysurfed, rowed, sailed, lifeguarded, tandem surfed, paddleboarded, dove hardhat, SCUBA, and free, water skied, did movie stunt work, served as a boat master and marine coordinator for numerous films, designed and shaped surfboards, rescue and racing paddleboards, helped test and later manufactured his friend and co-lifeguard Lieutenant Wally Burton’s pioneering flexible lifeguard rescue tube, designed and built the West Coast’s finest surf dories (molds of which are still in use today), fished commercially, ran a marine salvage business as a licensed skipper and contractor, and designed for this business one of the most sophisticated salvage craft on the West Coast.”

His success and reputation as a waterman began early. He began surfing at the age of 8 and started lifeguarding at the age of 11. According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing, his reputation as part of the first group of lifeguards in Santa Monica was built on the number of ocean rescues he made.

Heroes and heroines all.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association