MEET PUMBA TWALO-NJOLI
He’s a professional lifeguard with the Clifton Surf Lifesaving Club. But he’s not just keeping you safe when you swim. This fighting fit beach warrior has won multiple medals at the Western Cape Provincial Lifesaving Championships and General Tire Lifesaving SA National Championships. Get your head out of the sand, follow his advice and beach better this summer.
My front crawl looks more like a doggy paddle. How can I power up my swimming technique next time I hit the beach?
In order to improve your swimming in the sea, you must kick hard and not stop kicking. Most guys tend to rely on their arms too much. Using your legs will help propel you forward and reduce fatigue. With every stroke, a good follow-through will see you gliding through the water. Kicking hard frees up your arms to concentrate on this technique.
I’m terrified of swimming straight into a shark, so I usually just stick to tanning on the sand. Am I being paranoid?
You’re not being paranoid at all; rather look at it as being cautious. The reality is that we’re swimming in their backyard. But If you swim where the lifeguards advise you to, then you don’t really have to worry, as we’re always looking out for sharks. Try and avoid murky water, swimming near seal colonies, and paddling around during dawn or dusk, when sharks are more likely to be lurking in the water. Plus, you should never swim alone or if you’re bleeding.
Any tips for stashing my valuables when I’m on the beach and want to cool down in the water?
If you aren’t with someone who can keep a close eye on your stuff, us life guards are here to help. Remember, we’re here to watch the water and the beach.
How do lifeguards stay so fit? What are the drills that will turn me into The Rock?
I run sprinting drills in the sand (it adds resistance and dials up the difficulty to create a killer workout). I also go paddle boarding and swimming in the ocean every chance I get. When I’m not near the sea, you’ll spot me jogging or hitting the gym. Training your whole body is the best way to stay lifesaving fit.
I’ve heard about the dreaded rip tide. What should I do if I’m caught in the current?
A rip tide moves away from the beach, out to sea. If you’re caught in a rip tide, don’t fight it. While you might be worried about being dragged out into the depths, rip tides tend to lose their strength once you’re out of the shallows. Ride the current out a little bit until you feel it weaken, and then swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of it. Once you’re free, use the waves to help boost you back to the safety of the beach.
If I spot someone drowning and there are no life guards around, what’s my play?
If you’re a confident swimmer, that’s your cue to go and rescue the victim. But first you should track down a pink rescue torpedo buoy that’s kept at most beaches for just this sort of situation. Take this with you. It will provide you with flotation – for you and the victim – saving you the struggle of treading water. If you’re not a strong swimmer, your first move should be to call the National Sea Rescue Institute to assist.
Is being a lifeguard anything like Baywatch?
The reality is there’s nothing glamorous about being a lifesaver. We’re dealing with real-life encounters where one slip-up can lead to someone dying. We can’t afford to drop the ball when beachgoers rely on us to keep them safe.