Men's Health (South Africa) - - GUY WISDOM -

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.

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