My name is Elana Ricciardelli and I have been working as a lifeguard for six years and counting. I started my lifeguarding career working at a pool and teaching swimming lessons back in 2014. Growing up in south Florida and always being around the water, I found that I have a passion for teaching children and adults how to swim. Soon after starting at the pool, I took the long and lengthy Water Safety Instructor class and got my official certificate and proper training. From there my passion grew immensely as I started my own little business of private swim lessons and also teaching at the pool. From there I grew in my passion of keeping people safe and wanted more training. So I took the Emergency Medical Responder class and began wondering about what it would take to become an Ocean Rescue Lifeguard.

In June of 2018 I achieved my long time goal and dream to become an Ocean Rescue Lifeguard and started my new and permanent career. I was thrilled and also a little nervous because this was totally new and male driven territory. I started working part time for the City of Boca Raton Ocean Rescue and was also working at the Swimming Hall of Fame. Soon after, I got settled and fell even more in love with the ocean and wanted more. In September of 2019 I got my wish and earned my first full time job with the City of Boca Raton.

Currently I am the only full time female on staff and always looking for female recruits who would be interested in the best job ever! I am actively in pursuit to become stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally for this job because it can be quite demanding. Living in South Florida, we always have to educate tourists who come to the beach and it can be an added stress.

Unfortunately their lack of knowledge of the ocean can create dangerous situations and it is our job to take preventative action. Being a female lifeguard I have come into contact with locals and tourists who can be ignorant and are not willing to listen to women enforcing the rules. These sexist ideals do create the issue of the female lifeguards not being able to do their job effectively. This is unfortunate and an unacceptable behavior that I have personally come in contact with.

At the end of the day, I hope their outlook and mindset can change seeing that I am fully capable of equal or better performance as male lifeguards. It is always encouraged to educate family and friends on local beach rules and regulations as well to create safe and healthy environments, it is key and can always start at home.

I am so proud to be apart of something much bigger than myself and to be proud of what I do for a living. Proud to keep people safe and educate the public, to represent other female lifeguards around the world and having a higher standard.

In such a male dominated field, I was pleasantly surprised and grateful that the Virginia Beach Surf and Rescue team is reaching out to get women from around the world to tell their story. It’s about time people knew about the far and few between badass women lifeguards.

Images provided by Elana Ricciardelli.