My name is Chelsea Byrne and I have been an Ocean Rescue Guard for three years. I was working at Delray Beach OR and after a year there, was lucky enough to become a member of Delray Beach Fire Rescue. I then found my way to Boca Raton OR as a part time guard and have been there for two years now. I have been a part of several Lifeguard competitions and really enjoy the challenge that it brings, mentally and physically. Ocean Rescue has been a major part of my life. It’s where I met my husband, how I became a fireman, and where I met some amazing friends for life.

Ocean Rescue has pushed me on so many levels. Physically, I swim, run or paddle every day I work. You have to be in peak condition for any potential rescue. I believe you owe it to the beach patrons when you take this job to be the best you can be for their safety. Mentally, having the capacity to push yourself during a rescue or a competition requires strength. It’s a dream to walk out to the beach every morning, feel the sand, smell the ocean and be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Ocean Rescue has also brought out another passion of mine, Beach clean ups! Seeing the beach as often as I do has brought to my attention how much trash is ruining my place of work. Seeing the environment suffer because of us is aggravating and about two years ago I decided to do something about it. I put together a beach clean up crew that meets up and tries to make a small but significant difference.

My favorite rescue story took place about 6 months ago. A man and his father were visiting from South America and, as most visitors tend to do, swam right into a rip. Running down the stairs, watching the son lose his fathers grip and seeing both rush away from the shore spiked my adrenaline. I swam out with a hard can and was able to reach both of them, about 100 yards out. Neither of them spoke English but there was an unspoken understanding and relief on all of our faces. I swam them both into shore and let my fellow guards know everything was ok. I was immediately hugged by the rest of their family and Fire Rescue was called out for a physical check, but everyone was fine. The overwhelming display of gratitude was amazing and a huge part of the reason I do this job.

My advice to women, and truly anyone, who is interested in being a lifeguard is, DO IT! You already had the confidence to consider it, now all you need is a strong stroke and a passion for helping others. You will meet amazing and unique people, discover your personal motivation and drive for this job, and grow not only as a person but a life saving ocean rescue guard.

Images provided by Chelsea Byrne.