“Old ex-competitive swimmers are a menace. The ones who pretend that their muscles haven’t atrophied are worse than the ones who are out of shape, and ex-pool lifeguards are the worst of all – those losers weren’t strong enough to be ocean lifeguards in the first place. They should be required to wear life vests when they hit 45.”
That was part of the training I received as a pool lifeguard, way back in the distant past when swimming pools still had diving boards.
Here’s a recent picture of me taken at Kapaau, close to the northern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii, during my recent audition for the Darwin Awards. This black sand beach is one of the most beautiful places on the planet for somebody to drown. You’ll notice that I am the only swimmer in the picture, despite the fact that it’s a glorious beach day. Why do you think that is? The National Weather Service has a nice explanation of what rip currents are, how they form, and why you shouldn’t go swimming in them.
Even an untrained eye can see that the waves are choppy and that they’re breaking in different directions at the same time, but who cares? I’ve been swimming for almost 50 years! (This is the kind of thinking the trainer had in mind – Notice how the ex-pool lifeguard turns his greatest liability into some kind of asset? Anybody who has been doing anything for almost half a century shouldn’t get his ankles wet when the surf is this dangerous!)
It’s a good thing that my Guardian Angel hasn’t reached the mandatory retirement age.