If we know one thing about the Virginia Beach Lifeguards, it’s that they have a large responsibility while on duty. Some beach visitors may not even realize what a big job they have when simply looking at them. When seeing a lifeguard, they will usually be in their stand sitting under an umbrella, scanning the horizon, maybe even twirling their whistle… Sounds easy, right? Not so fast!

I spoke with Thomas Gill, the Chief of the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service to give you the scoop!

Here are the 5 things you don’t know about the Virginia Beach Lifeguards.

1. It’s More Than A Summer Job

To keep in tune with lifesaving skills and physical stamina, their lifeguard training is year-round! Many of the guards participate in sports to keep in shape, which is very important when it comes to lifeguarding. The most popular sport for the lifeguards is competitive swimming. Who would have guessed that?! According to Mr. Gill, “When guards apply in the spring, they must first pass a run test (one mile under 8:30) and swim test (550 yards under 10 minutes) before moving forward with the training process.” That’s impressive! 

2. They Save HUNDREDS Of People Every Year

Just last year for the 2015 beach season in Virginia Beach, lifeguards performed 777 rescues in the water. The number of saves that the lifeguards perform varies from year to year. The average of saves performed is 400-600. That’s a lot of people! The lifeguards are seen as true heroes to the people who have been rescued.

3. Top Two Reasons They Need To Blow Their Whistle

When it comes to rules at the beach, it is pretty relaxed. But, there are two main reasons why a lifeguard will blow their whistle! One reason is if a swimmer is too far out in the water. The lifeguard will tweet and will signal that they need to come further towards the shore. This happens fairly often at the beach. This is to make sure no one gets too far out and panic. The second top reason is if someone is setting up in the lifeguard’s path of rescue. In other words, you can’t set up right in front of the lifeguard stand! This is to ensure quick rescue time.

4. Top Two Questions They Receive From Tourists

We trust our lifeguards! They are locals, afterall. They know where the good stuff is. This must be the reason why people love to ask them where the best places to eat are! This is one of the most popular questions they get during the beach season.

The second most popular question they get is, “what are those fins out there?”

The answer: DOLPHINS! Almost always, it’s dolphins

5. What They Want YOU To Know

The lifeguards want you know to how to swim!

When coming to the beach, it’s best to know your limits. If you do not know how to swim, don’t try to learn by yourself in the ocean. Even if the waves seem little and calm… try not to let it fool you! Be safe, and stay in shallow waters.

A tip from the Virginia Beach lifeguards is to use the buddy system. 

Even if you know how to swim, it’s good to have a partner to swim with in case you need them… It’s more fun that way anyway!

Click for tips on surviving a rip current.

We love our Virginia Beach Lifeguards, and they love what they do. They have saved so many people throughout the years at the Oceanfront. How do they make their ever important job look so easy!? Have you, a friend, or a family member been saved by one of these lifeguards? Let us know!