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Lifeguards return to duty on Pensacola Beach

PENSACOLA BEACH  --  Pensacola Beach -  It may not feel like it today but it's officially Spring Break season in our area and that means the return of lifeguards to Pensacola Beach.
   
In years past we've had around 40 lifeguards patrolling the beach. This year the Public Safety division plans to have at least 60.

Sitting high in their towers looking out over our beautiful water it seems like a great job doesn't it? But, the lifeguards duty is to really keep beach goers safe.
   
Over the past few years  more  lifeguards have been added to Santa Rosa Island. This year, nine additional lifeguards have been added to the roster. But, that's not enough. Another try out date has been added.
   
"The try out is a 600 yard swim in ten minutes or less in a pool, then we have a 30 minute break. Then you do a mile and a half run in 20 minutes or less on the track," said Senior Lifeguard, Alex Johnson.

Senior Lifeguard Alex Johnson says before the summer season they hope to have 60 lifeguards in their program. But why so many?

Johnson says they maybe adding more beaches to their watch. If  they win the National Seashore contract.

Also, the Affordable Care Act will keep lifeguard hours down to 30 a week.
Pamela Lakvold is vacationing from Louisiana. She says the extra eyes on the water makes Pensacola Beach the perfect spot for her family to visit.
 
"You guys have real lifeguards on the stands ready if anything should happen and I like that they patrol the beaches and they're always ready and are kind and they're helpful and they get to know the people out on the beach," said Lakvold.
   
Johnson also has tips to keep your beach day safe.
 "We want everyone to have  fun, to swim near a lifeguard, ask us where the safest places to swim are because we get a lot more rip currents out here, drink a lot of water and wear sunscreen," said Johnson.
   
To learn more about the lifeguard try outs on March 15th, you can visit    http://pensacolabeachlifeguards.sharepoint.com/Pages/default.aspx  or just click here to go there now.

In Okaloosa County, patrols will begin this Saturday.
And Santa Rosa County lifeguards will be back on the beach March 15th.