This week has been a very busy time for Surf Lifeguards. The sea around many parts of New Zealand has been quite dangerous recently with high waves and rips. In the week since New Year, Surf Lifeguards at Papamoa beach in the Bay of Plenty rescued 37 swimmers. At Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel, Surf Lifeguards rescued 25 people in the same period, whereas the total number of rescues there during the whole summer last year was 107. Many thousands of tourists visit Hot Water beach because it is famous for the hot thermal springs under the sand at low tide.
At Taylor’s Mistake beach in Christchurch, 28 people were rescued on Saturday. Often people start swimming between the flags then the sea carries them outside the flags.
Surf Life Saving clubs do a great job in New Zealand. There are 73 clubs in New Zealand with 15,000 volunteer members. The clubs train young people to become lifeguards at beaches. These people learn to be strong swimmers and they compete against other clubs. It’s a healthy sport. They also learn first aid and how to rescue swimmers who get into trouble in the water.
During the summer school holidays, most popular beaches are patrolled by Surf Lifeguards. A few of these people are paid for some of this time but they are supported by many volunteers. This is a community service. Money to pay lifeguards comes from sponsors, lottery money, donations and sometimes from local councils.
• surf – big waves
• rips – dangerous currents in the sea which can carry swimmers out to sea
• lifeguard – at a pool or on the beach; the job of a lifeguard is to make sure swimmers are safe
• same period – same length of time
• thermal springs – hot water or steam from the ground
• low tide – at high tide, the sea comes up the beach, at low tide it goes back
• flags – Surf Lifeguards put two red and yellow flags on the beach to show the safest place to swim
• first aid – if someone is hurt, lifeguards know what to do
• patrol the beach – watch swimmers
• lottery – buy a ticket and hope to win a prize e.g. Lotto