Wav­ing, not drown­ing

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News - GE­OFF SHEARER

BE­ING a life­guard on Syd­ney’s Bondi Beach not only in­volves mon­i­tor­ing the con­stant bat­tle of swim­mer against sea. There’s also recog­nis­ing the po­ten­tial dan­gers of fame.

With TV cam­eras pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar in­tru­sion into their work­ing day, the Bondi Res­cue life­guards have had to ac­cept they have rapidly grow­ing pub­lic pro­files.

For Dean ‘‘Deano’’ Glad­stone, 31, that means en­sur­ing the pub­lic doesn’t get in the way of his job.

‘‘It’s re­ally funny. Some days it gets to the stage of ha­rass­ment, but when it’s busy they gen­er­ally leave us pretty clear,’’ he says.

Sit­ting in the Bondi com­mand room while scan­ning the beach, Glad­stone says: ‘‘I think they re­spect us and think that we do a good job.’’

Fel­low life­guard Chris ‘‘Chappo’’ Chap­man says the life­guards have con­tem­plated em­ploy­ing some­one to deal with crowds want­ing pho­to­graphs.

‘‘Com­ing into this past sum­mer, with the pop­u­lar­ity of the show, we thought we might have to get an ex­tra guy — some­one to take care of peo­ple com­ing to the tower and want­ing to get pho­tos with us.

‘‘When we’re busy we thought it might have been a prob­lem with them get­ting in the way of what we do and safety on the beach, but peo­ple are re­ally re­spect­ful of our job when we’re busy.’’

World fa­mous Bondi at­tracts more than 2½ mil­lion peo­ple a year and the guards make about 2500 res­cues each sea­son.

With those sorts of num­bers you may ex­pect some high jinks among beach­go­ers.

But the life­guards say they haven’t had to ‘‘res­cue’’ a swim­mer pre­tend­ing to be in trou­ble, sim­ply be­cause they wanted to meet their tele­vi­sion favourite.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously with the show now, peo­ple know what we do and how se­ri­ous it is,’’ Chap­man says.

Bondi Res­cue has at­tracted huge in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est and is dis­trib­uted world­wide, in­clud­ing the UK, Swe­den, Nor­way, Ger­many, Den­mark and New Zealand.

No won­der that when he is away from the beach, Glad­stone says he oc­ca­sion­ally is recog­nised by fans.

‘‘If there’s a cou­ple of us out to­gether we’re more of a chance to be recog­nised. But it’s more the blue shirt that does it,’’ he says with a laugh, point­ing to his life­guard out­fit.

‘‘Yeah, so I have a whole wardrobe of them at home!

‘‘It’s re­ally just a nov­elty to me and it’s fun. My wife laughs at me be­cause the young girls get very ex­cited some­times.’’

Smash hits: life­savers-turned-TV per­form­ers Rod Kerr (driv­ing) and Dean Glad­stone do res­cue drills on a jet­ski.

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