THE LIFE OF AN ENCINITAS LIFEGUARD IN SUMMER 2020
The lifeguards in Mizu’s hometown of Encinitas are part of an iconic brigade. Watching over some of Southern California’s best beaches, they save us from rip tides, soothe our feet from the pain of a stingray, and generally make sure we are all safe while enjoying the surf.
Although summer is always a hectic time for our lifeguards, they’ve faced a whole new lot of challenges this year — beaches closing during our shelter-in-place orders; having to enforce social distancing rules once they reopened; and dealing with the additional pollution created by the rise of disposables (masks, cutlery, plastic bags and more) during this period of Covid-19.
At Mizu, we love our local lifeguards and understand how critical the role they play is in keeping our community safe. We checked in with Becca Trosch and David Huff at the Encinitas Lifesaving Association to find out how Summer 2020 is going for them and make sure they are all kitted out with insulated Mizu bottles to keep their water cold on the longest, hottest summer days.
Q: Why did you decide to become a lifeguard in the first place?
A: Becca - I am a creature of the ocean and I love the challenge. The ocean is a dynamic force of nature. Some days it is calm and non-threatening and other days it becomes a wild beast that will swallow you up and spit you out. Most people come to the beach to have fun and they let their guard down. I train hard to handle the elements so that I am prepared for whatever is thrown at me. People depend on us to make water rescues, respond to medical emergencies and so much more. It is very rewarding knowing that you have made a difference in someone’s life whether it’s rescuing them from a rip current or soaking their foot in hot water to relieve their pain from a stingray.
A: David - I grew up around the ocean all of my life and always felt the most comfortable while in the water. Growing up at the beach I would witness crazy rescues and be amazed at the abilities of the lifeguards. One day in Pacific Beach, I was checking out the surf and witnessed a really bad wipeout. I noticed right away that the surfer was in distress and that no one else had seen what I had witnessed in the water. I immediately ran down the stairs and swam out through the surf and helped the surfer back to the beach. His gratitude was immediate and thanked me for helping him and potentially saving his life. I knew right then I needed to do whatever it took to become a lifeguard so that I can make an impact in someone’s life.
Q: What do you love about the job?
A: Becca - I love the teamwork aspect of being an ocean lifeguard. We all work hard together to make sure everyone in the ocean and on the beach is safe. No matter what happens we have each other’s backs and work as a unit to get the job done. The camaraderie is what keeps me going.
A: David - Everyday something different happens or you experience something new. The interactions we have with the public reflects upon how they see ocean lifeguards — so in that aspect I love that I can make a difference in someone’s life in a positive way by my actions. I also love the teamwork aspect of being an ocean lifeguard. I always know the person next to me has my back and I have theirs no matter what happens. Everyone is my family.
Q: What new challenges have you faced this summer due to Covid-19 and restrictions put in place for social distancing?
A: Becca - When the beaches re-opened during the first week of May (after being closed for a month) we went into full summer mode. It was a scramble to get all the dunlevy towers out to their locations and get everything ready. The beaches were crowded, and we were required to enforce many rules, including; no laying on the beach, no playing organized sports, no fishing, etc. It was very frustrating, and we got a lot of kickback. But, at the end of the day, it’s hard to complain when you get to work at the beach.
A: David - When the lockdown first happened, city beaches closed before State beaches so I felt it was very difficult to try to enforce the restrictions that were in place. People love coming down to the beaches and it’s hard to not want to do the everyday things that make you happy. Once we re-opened the real challenge was getting beachgoers to comply with the mandated restrictions. It was a lot of extra work to ensure compliance without alienating the public but ensure public safety.
Q: We've noticed an uptick in the pollution around town with disposable masks. Are you finding the same on the beaches?
A: Becca - I have noticed many disposable masks left behind on the beach. I wish we could enforce a rule that everyone must pick up their trash before they leave the beach. We do our best to pick up trash when we see it and we appreciate all of the groups that come down to do beach cleanups.
A: David - I have noticed many disposable masks left behind on the beach. One of the things I do while on patrol is to look for trash as well and pick it up before it ends up in the ocean. This is a real challenge for Encinitas due to the lack of sand and loss of beach during high tides. We have a saying on our tide boards “pack it in, pack it out”. It just seems that people forget this.
Q: What 3 items are always with you in your lifeguard tower?
A: Becca - The essentials: rescue can, fins, and sunscreen.
A: David - Always my rescue can, fins, and sunscreen.
Q: If there was one thing you wish everyone knew about our Encinitas beaches, what would it be?
A: Becca - I wish that everyone was aware of the dangers of the eroding bluffs and would take us seriously when we recommend that they move farther away from the bluff. While Swami’s, Moonlight Beach, and Beacons have more space to hang out on the sand, the other beaches disappear during high tide. People tend to retreat to the bluff when the tide comes in and we do our best to get people to move.
A: David - This goes back to your question about pollution. Sitting off our coast in Encinitas is a natural preserve and it’s a very diverse aquatic life. I wish everyone that comes down to the beach would realize that leaving their trash on the beach affects the sea life around us.