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SCBP lifeguard Karres cares deeply about swimmers and beach patrons

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 16 and from Sept. 5 through Oct. 9, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from June 17 through Sept. 4.

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 spotlighting one of these Guardians by the Sea with a beach lifeguard feature story each week during the season.

Rescue in a riptide

His partner was on a lunch break, which meant that Sea Colony Beach Patrol lifeguard Garrett Karres was alone on the stand at that moment during his rookie summer of 2021.

“I noticed some riptides starting to open down by the Bethany Beach border,” recalled Karres. “I kept a close eye on the situation. Shortly thereafter, I saw a young boy getting pulled out by the rip like he was on a conveyor belt. I instantly saw his dad grab him, and he was also struggling against the rip.”

Karres leaped from his stand and raced into the surf.

“When I reached them, I immediately noticed that the dad was pretty tired,” Karres recalled. “So I ensured that the youngster grabbed onto my rescue can while his dad swam the rest of the way in. I brought the boy to shore, and both he and his dad were very thankful.”

Being entrusted with many important responsibilities

For Karres, being a lifeguard means that he is being entrusted with important responsibilities.

“Many of those responsibilities may represent the line between life and death,” said the 22-year-old native of Monterey, Calif. “You have to know and trust in your training, and be able to put that into action as soon as it’s needed.”

The 6-foot resident of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., said he cares deeply about the swimmers and beach patrons, whom he feels a great responsibility to protect.

“I became a lifeguard to save lives and to be a part of a community in which there is mutual trust,” he said. “On a personal level, it’s part of living a healthy lifestyle that includes working out regularly, being outside and catching some rays. There is nothing better to do during the summer.”

Karres said he considers the signing of semaphore with fellow lifeguards as the most difficult part of his job. Semaphore is a system of sending messages by holding one’s arms, flags or poles in certain positions to convey messages in an alphabetic code.

“You never realize how hard it is to spell some words until you’re atop your stand and with all eyes on you as you attempt to spell out simple words that are usually autocorrected and automatically fixed for you,” Karres said.

“My easiest responsibility is to stay physically fit,” he added. “One of the reasons I love our patrol is because of the various workouts we do during our workday to keep us fit and alert on the beach. This enables us to be in the best shape possible for our beach patrons who put their trust in us.”

Being in the best shape possible

Karres said he appreciates that his SCBP patrol leaders and colleagues ensure that each guard is in the best shape possible.

“This enables us to improve ourselves every day as we attempt to outdo and push one another,” he said. “And after our grueling workouts, when we set up our stands and are ready for a busy beach day, we have each others’ backs, both on and off the beach. We never question one another, and we’re always helping one another whenever the opportunity arises.”

Karres cited former SCBP lieutenant Bailey Noel as someone who has had a major impact on him as a lifeguard.

“I would never tell this to his face,” Karres began, “but during my rookie year in 2021, Lt. Noel did everything from showing me the ropes to pushing through the competitiveness within me that I never knew I had. He showed me the love for comps.”

Karres said he hopes to “get my wings” to serve the U.S. Army by attending flight school next spring. His long-term benchmark is to settle down in Florida, where he hopes to become a pilot for the Florida National Guard. He also wants to become an Emergency Medical Service helicopter pilot.

Article by Mike Stern, Coastal Point, August 10, 2023


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