California State Parks Rescue Lifeguard

Prior to summer the California State Parks have tryouts for State Parks lifeguards.  They hold the tryouts up and down the California coast.  This gives potential lifeguards an opportunity to see if they are physically fit for the job. 

 Lifeguard Tryout qualifications

 I photographed this woman lifeguard at the tryouts that were held at the Sycamore Canyon StateBeach just outside of Oxnard, California.  All applicants are required to successfully complete a 1,000 yard open water swim. Time limit of 20 minutes. And then they have a continuous 200 yard run, 400 yard swim, 200 yard run. Time limit of 10 minutes.

After that strenuous test there is a qualification appraisal interview.  And then the applicant needs to complete the California State Park Lifeguard Training Program. (8 days/80+ hours) Includes department certification in CPR & AED, Public Safety First Aid, and open water search & rescue and other aquatic lifesaving techniques.

 Lifeguard Challenge

 At this particular tryout the surf was so big they cancelled the actual tryout but allowed people to practice the course and the high surf.  The surf was running about six feet, heavy winds and a strong rip tide.  This was a dangerous swim and the State gave warning, suggesting that you better be a strong swimmer to attempt the 1000 yard swim.  The regular state lifeguards put the swimmers into the water a couple of hundred yards up the beach, allowing for the drift of the current and the riptides. 

It was a challenge for the lifeguards to get their jet skies and their rescue paddleboards into the water - which took a number of attempts.  I would guess about a dozen lifeguards went out on paddleboards and another dozen guards stayed in shallow water to help with any struggling swimmers.  Other California State Parks lifeguards were available on shore for any problems.


I took about a hundred photographs that day, documenting the tryouts.  This particular lifeguard caught my interest to paint.   The painting is approximately 8 1/2 feet by 4 feet, acrylic on unstretched canvas.

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