Brief History of Lifeguards in the U.S.

It feels like lifeguards have been around foreverprobably because as long as you can remember, you’ve always seen lifeguards at your local pool or beach. But that wasn’t always case! There was a time when lifeguards weren’t there to watch out for pool and beach patrons, which was a completely different (and less safe) world. If you’re interested in how lifeguards came about, take a quick break to recap the history of lifeguards in the U.S. with us!

How They Started

Swimming was becoming popular in the 1900s, and as more people were taking dips in the pool, more people were suffering from drowning. After a big rescue from Duke Kahanamoku, it was decided that there was a need for lifeguards. They weren’t called lifeguards at the time, but it was recognized that there was a need for people to be patrolling beaches and pools to ensure safety.

When They Became Known As Lifeguards

Cities began hiring people to watch out for beachgoers. At first, a lot of them were police officers! Over time, these municipalities decided to have designated lookouts—people who would guard and save lives. And they became known as lifeguards.

Becoming Official

With time, lifeguarding became more and more popular, so there needed to be rules in place in order to make sure the lifeguards were really ready to take on such huge responsibilities. This is when things became formalized, and lifeguards needed to take certification exams and courses in order to officially be a lifeguard.

That brings us to 2019 – almost 2020. It’s been quite a journey, but lifeguards play such an important role in the safety in our world. Thanks for taking the time to honor and learn about your local heroes!

Check out our video on the Duke’s Oceanfest here.

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