You know summer is here when temps are high and the water is the coolest place to be. It’s also the time of the year when lifeguards are at their most alert, overseeing public pools, water parks, beaches, lakes and other swimming areas. Thanks to their steadfast efforts, U.S. lifeguards have rescued more than an estimated 100,000 people from drowning every year, according to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA). While all lifeguard rescues are heroic and honorable, some really stand out for doing the unthinkable. Here are the top 10 lifeguard stories:
- Teen Teamwork
Teen lifeguards, Alisha LaRosa and Andrew McAuliffe, of Cicero, New York, became local heroes for rescuing a boater who jumped into the water because he thought his boat was going to catch on fire. The teens were lifeguarding at the Lake Shore Yacht and Country Club’s pool when they received news of a man in trouble in Oneida Lake, and darted toward the lake to rescue a man twice their size. Together, LaRosa and McAuliffe got the man on his back and they safely brought him to shore.
- Cliff Hanging
Not all lifeguards swim to their victims, they sometimes climb cliffs for them. This is the case for a group of San Diego lifeguards who saved a hiker, Dean Sparks, his dog and two men who got stuck trying to save Sparks. The men and the dog were all stuck about 100 feet above Black’s Beach, without a safe way down. Lifeguards lowered the victims safely down the cliffs with ropes.
- Wave Pool Worries
Five-year-old, Kamron Jennings, wasn’t waving his hands in excitement over the wave pool at Atlantis Water Park in Clarksville, Indiana, but rather showing a desperate sign for help. Lifeguard Josh Underwood was on duty and saw the young child’s hands, yelled, “Hey,” and jumped into the pool after him. Underwood brought Jennings to dry land where an unidentified EMT and nurse performed rescue breaths on the child, reviving him and he was rushed to the hospital.
- Former Lifeguard’s Still Got It
Rick Millan was in the right place at the right time, when he heard two teens screaming, “Help, I’m dying,” at Amherst Avenue beach in Ventnor, New Jersey. After realizing the teens weren’t joking and were actually caught in an undertow about 100 yards off the unprotected beach, Millan reverted back to his lifeguard rescue skills, swam to the teens using a boogie board and towed them to safety with the help of bystanders, firefighters and lifeguards.
- Submerged Save
California lifeguard Micah Moore had to go to great depths to save Jessica Eung, a 19-year-old college student, who was drowning 50 yards offshore at Torrey Pines State Beach. Eung and her friend Troy Le had been swimming with bodyboards when a rip current pulled them off and, without knowing how to swim, both started sinking under water. Eung was the only one in sight when Moore jumped into the water and dove down to grab her lifeless body. Le was already submerged when Moore arrived, and rescuers have not been able to find his body. Eung’s rescue was miraculous, considering her inability to swim and being submerged under water.
- A Cold, Close Call
High school student and summer lifeguard, Chloe Van Alstine was jogging, when she stopped to take a break on the beach at Lake Algonquin in New York, and heard a loud crash from a truck hitting the guard rails and plummeting into the water. Her lifeguard instincts came into play when she dove into the cold November water and began swimming towards the sinking car and victim, William Trainor, who was out of the car and flailing around. A bystander rowed his boat over to Van Alstine and Trainor and pulled them to shore, where an ambulance treated them. Trainor was charged with driving while intoxicated.
- Junior Lifeguard
San Clemente, California, bodyboarder, Rocket Klein, has already surpassed some lifeguards’ rescue counts and is only 12 years old. This junior lifeguard demonstrated his quick rescue skills when he spotted two girls struggling to swim at San Clemente’s T-Street Beach and hurriedly swam out to them before any other lifeguard or officer could react. Klein escorted the two girls, who were about his age, safely back to shore on a borrowed longboard. This incident was nothing out of the ordinary for Klein, who has saved kids and adults alike from the sometimes vicious waters he knows well.
- Shark Attack Victim Rescue
Like a scene out of Jaws, lifeguard Daniel Lund, 46, of Stuart, Florida, swam a quarter-mile to get to the bloody pool surrounding Stephen Schafer, 38, who had been bitten by a shark while kiteboarding. A shark attack victim himself, Lund ignored his fears and without delay pulled Schafer onto his rescue board, escaping the group of sharks that were circling the area. Schafer endured an 8- to 10-inch shark bite on his right thigh and had teeth marks along his backside. Despite Lund’s heroic and hurried efforts, Schafer lost consciousness before they reached the shore and was pronounced dead at the hospital, which marked Martin County’s first fatal shark attack.
- A Modest Rescue
Although Coral Lewis, Adam Pitman and Jon Johnston may say they were “just doing their job,” these three made a huge impact on Tenby’s South Beach in South West Wales, when they rescued 36 children and four adults who were plunged into deep water after a sandbank collapsed under them. Lewis, who had only been a lifeguard for a couple weeks, coordinated the rescue with the help of the coastguard, ambulances and medical specialists. They were able to bring the 40-person party to safety thanks to their promptness and skilled training.
- Scuba Save
Jimmy Canale, a La Jolla, California, lifeguard arrived to his lifeguard station right on time to find a scuba diver struggling to keep afloat 100 yards offshore. Canale grabbed his board and headed towards the scuba diver, who weighed more than 300 pounds and found his companion, who was also struggling to stay above water. The 53-year-old lifeguard brought the two men to shore, where one was given oxygen and was rushed to the hospital to recover. Thanks to Canale’s promptness and the fact that he arrived on time to their newly enforced morning shift, the men would have likely drowned.