As the guest of Newport Beach Battalion Chief Eric Bauer, I recently attended the tryouts for seasonal lifeguard positions. More than 100 intrepid contestants plunged into the 51-degree water for a swim around Newport Pier. I knew it was not for the faint of heart when the hardy contestants were told, "When you hit the water, you will probably get a really bad ice-cream headache." No wetsuits were allowed. It was a test of skill and grit.
The city will hire 70 seasonal life guards for the season to supplement our year-round staff of 16, which includes administrative and supervisory staff. They help keep our beaches safe and are ambassadors to the more than 9 million visitors who frequent our beaches every year. Lifeguards recommend restaurants, places to shop and local events. The Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce recognizes the dedication of our public safety personnel and holds annual appreciation days.