No dramatic rescues this season
Keeping swimmers safe at Whites BaySONIA BEAL
Rescues at Whites Bay near Blenheim this summer have mostly involved the likes of beach balls, kites and "rubber duckies".
Rarangi Surf Lifesaving Club captain Tim Lovejoy said there had not been any dramatic rescues this season, mostly because Whites Bay was a safe beach and lifeguards had good knowledge of watching out for swimmers who put themselves at risk.
Instead of rescuing people, lifeguards had been rescuing children's toys, Mr Lovejoy said.
"Whites Bay is prone to an offshore breeze.
"So there are a lot of toys like rubber duckies and beach balls and kites that get caught up by the wind and swept into the sea, so the lifeguards have spent quite a bit of time going out and retrieving them."
Mr Lovejoy described the season as "pretty quiet".
"We always get bee stings and cut feet to deal with, but that's a normal part of it."
The warm weather had meant no-one had had "cold injuries" from being in the water too long.
At the beginning of their patrol, lifeguards took all precautions to ensure that bathers were safe by putting up flags indicating the area safest to swim in and a conditions board telling people about the tides, weather and water temperature.
Apart from about 400 people who turned out at the beach on Saturday, beachgoer numbers during the Christmas-New Year holiday had been fairly steady, he said.
"It's been pretty average. We would average about 250 to 350 people on a busy day between patrol hours."
SURFBOAT ENTHUSIAST ENJOYS LIFEGUARD ROLE
Norma-Jean Tyson, 21, of Blenheim, has been a lifeguard at Rarangi Surf Lifesaving Club for six years.
Miss Tyson said her former teacher at Tua Marina School had inspired her to get involved in the club to do something that looked like a lot of fun but also involved giving back to the community.
Rowing was a major part of the appeal, she said.
"I love the surfboat side of it and to do that you have to patrol," Miss Tyson said.
Some Rarangi lifeguards have just returned from the Whangamata Surf Boat Spectacular, which involved a series of short-course races with four rowers and one sweep, who steers the boat.
The club also attended three North Island surfboat competitions each year, as well as the nationals in March.
Patrolling a shallow and sheltered beach such as Whites Bay was fairly easy.
"It's not like other beaches up north where it's really rough and they get some pretty dangerous surf."
During a patrol, lifeguards would be split into pairs, with two on the surf-club deck, two between the flags and two moving around the beach, she said.
Taking hourly head counts of people on the beach and in the water and constant radio communication are among requirements for duty lifeguards.
Rarangi volunteer lifeguards are mostly aged between 14 and 19, says Rarangi Surf Lifesaving Club captain Tim Lovejoy.
Regular weekend beach patrols are set up from 1pm to 5pm on Saturdays and 11am to 5pm on Sundays, from November until about April.
Patrols were run on New Year's Day.
New volunteers were trained during winter and established volunteers given the opportunity to train and maintain their fitness.
To qualify, a lifeguard needs to be able to swim 400 metres in less than nine minutes.
- The Marlborough Express