South Jersey has been a national leader in surf life saving since the 19th Century with Ocean City, NJ forming the nation’s second official paid ocean lifeguard service behind neighboring Atlantic City in 1898. What began as a patrol of three men is now a patrol of roughly 150 men and women who are part of the regional South Jersey Chief’s Association that oversees municipal patrols that guard virtually all the ocean and bay beaches from Cape May to Brigantine. Each year the patrols run one or two days of tryouts to recruit the next generation of surf life saving professionals. Each patrol’s specific tryouts may vary slightly, but each tryout demands that these ocean focused athletes be far more than comfortable swimmers. Since the South Jersey patrols pride themselves on preventative guarding and a team approach to protecting bathers active lifeguards may find themselves running, swimming or grabbing various rescue crafts to respond to emergencies. While there is the 3 and 3 challenge of a marathon run and 10k swim for the long distance community the challenge for potential surf life savers is the 6 & 6 that demands equal measures of strength, speed, endurance and surf awareness.
- A 500 meter ocean swim beginning and ending in dry sand in the six minute range
- A 1-mile beach run also in the six minute range
For most patrols a fitness standard that any guard must maintain is the ability to complete a 500 meter swim in 10:00 or under and a mile run in 7:30. While those standards will let you keep your job the highly selective tryouts require that the closer you can get to the double six standard the greater your chances of joining the oldest surf life saving family in the country.