Comments Off on Beach patrol looking for a few good swimmers – San Francisco Chronicle

Beach patrol looking for a few good swimmers – San Francisco Chronicle

Posted by | August 3, 2016 | Open Water Lifeguards

[…] your work space is San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, one of the most turbulent and deadly stretches of salt water in the country. Sean Scallan, who has been working the beach patrol as an employee of the National Park Service for 17 years, says that in a typical season the 3-mile stretch of bone-chilling, 50-degree water has “between five and seven rip currents,” which can grab a swimmer and drag him out to sea. Saturday, when a 28-year-old man from Merced toppled off the rock cliffs near the ruins of the Sutro Baths, 30-year-old James Mathews ran into the frigid water wearing nothing warmer than a pair of red swim trunks. “When we got the call and heard this guy is face down in the water, a couple of the guys wanted to get out there as fast as possible,” Scallan said. Jonathan Baxter, a San Francisco Fire Department spokesman who was at the scene Saturday, was both impressed and concerned when he saw Mathews and another rescuer, John Scofield, head into the rocky inlet beneath the Cliff House. “When you see those conditions, you know dangers are at a heightened level,” said Baxter, who happens to be a trained rescue swimmer. […] to review: scary life-and-death situations and freezing cold with no wetsuit. Imagine what you have to pay people to do something like that. […] not much. “I’m a commercial crab fisherman to support my lifeguard habit,” Mathews jokes. Scallan is a sign painter when he’s not diving into the murky breakers. Scallan says April and May are the worst months with the last of the high winter surf combining with warm weather to encourage visitors to exceed the “no deeper than your knees” rule. The beach patrols drive up and down the sand, trying to accomplish what Scallan calls “the best kind of rescue,” meaning one that heads off trouble before it happens. Monday he pointed to a group of young women in shorts, tiptoeing into the water and then jumping back. If the rescue is along the sandy beach, Scallan says, “we have some polar bear lifeguards.”

Source: Beach patrol looking for a few good swimmers – San Francisco Chronicle

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