The Coast : 2020-07-09

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GO Lifelong lifeguard M ike Melenchuk stopped being a certified lifeguard about a decade ago, but as the executive director of the Nova Scotia Lifesaving Society, he’s still keeping his feet wet. He tells The Coast that since he first started patrolling beaches like Rissers, Rainbow Haven and Aylesford Lake, drownings have decreased significan­tly in the province at both oceans and lakes. “It’s gotten a lot better. When the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service started in the ’70s, this province used to see 30 to 40 drownings a year, and now, knock on wood, many years we see fewer than 10 in this province,” he says. Part of that can be chalked up to more people taking swimming lessons, but also to better-trained lifeguards who have the right equipment and are stationed at more beaches than they were decades ago. “There’s more supervised beaches and opportunit­ies to be safe than there ever has been” says Melenchuk. “Just for the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service... it was either six or eight beaches that they started off with. This year it’s 15 or 16.” But even with the right equipment and training, lifeguards face challenges at some of the bigger beaches in the province. “A lifeguard in a pool is probably only at most 25 metres away from you. Here at Birch Cove, the lifeguards might be in that chair, and if you’re having difficulti­es down at the point, that’s 100 metres or more away,” says Melenchuk. The former lifeguard adds it’s most important to be aware and vigilant about how close you are to the water, especially if it’s at a beach with tides that could change on a dime. “Most people that drown, they never meant to be in the water. You were on a boat or you were watching the waves and all of a sudden you got swept out. The intention was, I’m just going to put my feet in the water. And at some of our big surf beaches, putting your feet in the water means that you are in a dangerous place,” he says. After putting in 15 years working as a lifeguard, Melenchuk now spends his days taking his own two young sons to beaches. “It’s always great as a parent that I get into the water first to make sure that I know, is there a drop off somewhere,” he adds. “You can go online either to the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service website or HRM beaches to get a list of what beaches are being supervised,” he says. Lifeguards from the municipali­ty and the Lifesaving Society are on duty until 6pm daily until August 31 at three pools, five ocean beaches, and 19 different lakes in HRM. This summer is all about exploring the beauty available in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. Soak up the sunshine, feel the salty spray from the Bay of Fundy and see the rocky outcrops of the highlands. Because we wouldn’t want to leave the province even if we could. Learn your A-B-Seas Check out our top ocean beaches for spending a scorching summer day. Whether you’re heading for a road trip with pals, taking the dog for a dip or enjoying a long walk on the beach at sunset, there’s something for everyone. BY SEYITAN MORITIWON ALEXA CUDE McNabs Island Bayswater Beach of the nicest sand beaches in the area. It’s a great spot for a contemplat­ive stroll and it's just a 25-minute drive from downtown Halifax. McNabs Cove 4015 Highway 329, Bayswater Just a couple of kilometres from downtown Halifax, McNabs Island is the largest island at the entrance of Halifax Harbour. A short boat ride from either downtown Halifax or Eastern Passage, it's perfect for sitting and watching ships coming in and out of the harbour. Take a water taxi there for a day and enjoy your own private beach at McNabs Cove. Getting to Bayswater's white sand beach will take you on a beautiful scenic drive down the coast. It’s known as a particular­ly safe beach with few riptides and currents. The beach includes a picnic area plus outdoor barbecue grills, changing rooms and toilets. All this about an hour from downtown. —Victoria Walton Clam Harbour Beach Safety tips 158 Beach Road, Clam Harbour Located an hour's drive from downtown Halifax, Clam Harbour is a long, sparkling white sand beach that usually has plenty of wide open space to spread out and suntan, or mosey down to dip your toes in the tide and enjoy the salt water. Clam Harbour's annual sandcastle competitio­n is unfortunat­ely cancelled this pandemic year, but you can still build your own anytime. Go in a group to keep an eye on friends Crystal Crescent Beach Conrads Beach 223 Sambro Creek Road, Sambro Always stay within sight of the lifeguard Conrad Road, off Highway 207, Lawrenceto­wn These three white-sand crescent beaches are located at the mouth of Halifax Harbour. With boardwalks to the first two beaches and a great hiking trail, Nova Scotian rumour says Conrad's Beach is a part of the Nova Scotia Coastal Heritage Park System and has one Don't go in the water after drinking alcohol • • The Coast 6 HOT SUMMER GUIDE 2020

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