NAME: LYNNSE MERFERT

YEARS LIFEGUARDING: 8

LOCATION(S): MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA

My name is Lynnse Merfert and I am 29 years old. I currently live in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey with my husband of four years, one-year-old son, dog and cat. Originally I hail from West Virginia, but resided in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for 8 years.

While in Myrtle Beach, I enjoyed careers as an Ocean Rescue Lifeguard, Emergency Medical Technician, and a Police Officer after obtaining my Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from Columbia College. Ocean Rescue led me to further my passion for lifesaving as a Beach Patrol Officer during the last 2 years in Myrtle.

My experiences have led me to New Jersey, where I am now a professional author, writer and stay-at-home mother.

Life, only a few short years ago, looked completely different than it does now. In 2011, I transferred colleges to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where I decided to take a three-month long lifeguarding class. Before the 1 st class day, I had never swum a lap in a pool, ever. The teacher wanted us to swim a 500. Needless to say, after only half a lap, she told me that I should quit the class because I’d never make it.

That put a fire in my soul. I worked hard, studied and proved myself worthy of accomplishing what others thought I couldn’t do.

Fast forward to becoming certified and landing my very first job as a lifeguard…in ocean rescue. Go big or go home, right?

For the next 5 years, I worked for John’s Beach Service where I made countless rescues and administered care to patrons on the beach and in the Atlantic Ocean.

The most memorable experience for me personally, was my very first rescue. Being on the beach and not ever having experience in saving a life, let alone in the ocean, was by far the most terrifying time in all my life. I remember sitting in my chair on a daily basis, running through scenarios in my head as I watched people swimming in the waves. I anticipated, constantly, the first time that I would let my buoy down and run out to someone calling for help. And then the time came when I was least expecting it.

It was night-time, around 7 PM. My friends, who were also guards, and I were enjoying the hot tub at a hotel on the beach after our shifts were over. We had noticed police lights about a mile down the beach next to the pier. It wasn’t anything unusual, until Beach Patrol zoomed by us with their jetski in tow. Looking at one another, there was no hesitation as we jumped out of the hot tub and sprinted as hard as we could down the beach toward the lights.

When we arrived, out of breath, but adrenaline soaring, the Beach Patrol officers were gathered around a growing, on-looking crowd. There was a suicidal woman trying to not only drown herself, but also fight off the officers attempting to save her. A Beach Patrol officer handed several of us spare buoys, a rescue basket and then off we went to help however much we could. The officers and woman were 250 yards into the ocean. It was so dark, but the waves were calm. I don’t really remember the swim out, but I do remember my heart pounding out of my chest.

After what seemed like forever, we reached the officers. The woman was fighting; punching and kicking, trying to go under the water, but the officers were attempting to calm her. Beach Patrol and a bunch of rookie ocean guards worked together that night to secure the woman in the rescue basket and swim her to shore using a makeshift rope on the back of a jetski. I was punched, kicked and yelled at that night.

I will never forget that moment. The moment that teamwork helped save a life. The moment that I realized I wanted to be a part of a bigger picture. That is the day that I decided I wanted to become a Beach Patrol Officer and the very moment that my true journey began. Ocean rescue brought me to my dream job as a Police Officer for the City of Myrtle Beach, where I landed a position on Beach Patrol a few years later. Looking back on that shy, terrified girl on the first day of lifeguarding class as her teacher said, “Just quit!”, I think, what if I had?

If anything in this life tries to stop you from fulfilling your purpose, don’t let it be a discouraging person or your own self-doubt. Don’t ever quit. Fiercely chase your dreams and thrive within your passions. You can be anything you want to be. If you quit now, where will it leave the people who need saving? They need you. Study hard, work hard, and there will be no limit to your potential in this career.

Images provided by Lynnse Merfert.