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SCBP lifeguard Grancharov recalls two rescues

On vigilant watch. On guard. On the stand. On their toes.

Photo by Taylor Brennan, Sea Colony

That is the job for a Sea Colony Beach Patrol lifeguard from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through June 14 and from Sept. 3 through Oct. 14, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from June 15 through Sept. 2.

While virtually everyone else around them on the beach is cavorting, reading, sleeping, talking or just taking in the magical salt air, the Guardians by the Sea are ready to spring into action.

Even while being cordial to those who approach the lifeguard stand, they are always on alert. Their eyes remain on the swimmers in the surf even while they are sipping and chewing for sustenance during the long beach day.

Someone’s life may be in danger.

And they are the ones who have the ability to rescue swimmers in need.

The Coastal Point is once again spotlighting one of these Guardians by the Sea with a beach lifeguard feature story each week during the season.

Stuck in a rip current and asking for help

He was completing a workout between shifts on the stand.

The 6-foot lifeguard had just bodysurfed inside a large wave amidst a violent current.

“I saw an older man who, at first, looked fine,” said Sea Colony Beach Patrol lifeguard Alex Grancharov. “I asked him if he was OK, and he said he was good. Five minutes later, I saw him again — he was stuck in a rip current and asking for help.”

Rip currents are strong, narrow and potentially deadly currents of water that victimize swimmers who panic or have limited water skills.

Grancharov immediately swam — without a rescue can — to the victim.

“There were waves crashing around us, and I was holding him above the water trying to get him out of the current,” added Grancharov, a native of the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. “After about five minutes of battling the waves, we finally made it out of the current, and ‘Mr. G-man’ — Capt. Dave Griffith — helped the man out of the water.”

Grancharov recalled another rescue amid 7- to 10-foot waves.

“A child got stuck inside a wave, and when I tried to give him the rescue can, he got scared, dropped the torpedo, and we got separated by the breaking wave,” he said. “I had to look for him again. I had to find him and get him out of the water. His parents were so worried and thankful. The next day, they gave us food.”

Sea Colony Beach Patrol

The Sea Colony Beach Patrol oversees half a mile of private beach daily from the weekend before Memorial Day to Columbus Day in October. The SCBP is a United States Lifeguard Association Advanced Certified Agency consisting of 21 guards, who are each certified in American Red Cross Lifeguarding, CPR for the Professional Rescuer and Emergency Medical Response. Each of the six lifeguard stands are located in front of the Sea Colony high-rise condominiums near Bethany Beach.

SCBP lifeguards respond to land and water emergencies, and they provide information and education about hazards in the sun, weather and ocean. SCBP beach lifeguards train daily to prepare for any situation on land or in water, and they constantly strive to exceed their high standards of open-water safety.

Keeping patrons safe and enforcing beach regulations

For Grancharov, being a lifeguard means assuming the responsibility for the safety and well-being of swimmers and visitors at the beach.

“The easiest responsibility of my job is to keep patrons safe and enforce the regulations of the beach,” said Grancharov, who resides in Ocean View during the summer. “The toughest part of my job is to be prepared mentally and physically, and to be ready for anything that can happen. The daily workouts are pretty difficult, but they’re well worth it for us.”

Grancharov became a lifeguard in order to work at the type of job that “is fun and physical. I’ve been a swimmer since I was 4 years old, so auditioning for this job was easy for me, especially to achieve the swimming trials and exams,” he said. “In Bulgaria, the beach patrons don’t respect us at all. But here in America, they love us. So this is another reason why I keep returning here to do this job.”

Grancharov credited Griffith with having a profound impact on him as a lifeguard.

“I’d say that ‘Mr. G-man’ made me want to be a better man and continue to be a better lifeguard,” said Grancharov. “I have never seen an older man working out with us and outperforming me at running. He also wins competitions.”

Grancharov’s short-term goal is to continue to be an outstanding lifeguard this summer, then return home and continue “my school journey. My long-term goal is to graduate from school, begin my career and start a family,” he concluded.

Article by Mike Stern, Coastal Point, June 27, 2024


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