Summer has finally arrived in Mercer Island and people are grabbing their floaties and heading to the beach, which means that the are back on-duty.
Due to , the parks and recreation department has had to relocate the lifeguards from to . While parks and recreation continues to maintain and operate Groveland, the lifeguards only guard at Luther Burbank.
They’re on duty seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. ensuring that swimmers stay safe.
Everyday, a minimum of two lifeguards guard the waters, and on sunny days, there will be three or four, said Ryan Daly, the recreation coordinator and hiring manager. “The number one thing I look for when hiring a lifeguard is reliability and dependability.”
This year, there are a total of six lifeguards, and three are returning guards. They’re all Red Cross certified, and are trained to administer CPR and first aid.
The Returning Guards
Long-time Mercer Island beachgoers will recognize Morgan Tuff, Brynn Walund and Mikayla Fletcher this summer.
Tuff is returning to her post as beach manager for her fourth summer at Luther Burbank. She has been a certified lifeguard for eight years, and loves “getting to know the community,” she said. Her most important piece advice for swimmers this summer is to “stay in the swimming area.”
Walund is guarding at Luther Burbank for her third summer. “She’s one of the youngest guards, but also one of the more experienced,” said Daly.
Fletcher is also a returning guard and has local roots. She recently graduated from where she was an avid .
According to Tuff, an off-duty activity the lifeguards like to pursue is baking. “We bake for each other all the time,” said Tuff. “Me and Brynn bake stuff and the boys eat it.”
The New Guards
Daly’s biggest challenge when recruiting guards is the fact that they grow up, he said. This year he had to hire three new employees to replace the lifeguards that moved on. This year’s new recruits are James Gilmore, Alex Dillon and Vittorio Giampapa.
Gilmore is head guard, and Tuff’s second in command. “He’s a really, really, really good lifeguard,” she said. He is also a swimmer for Seattle University and has spent many years guarding beaches “all over the place,” said Daly.
Dillon works with a variety of programs that the department offers, said Daly. Whether he’s helping out with the adventure playground or the little sports camp, Dillon always seems to be running around. He’s also always around the water. When he’s not working, .
Giampapa is also a new lifeguard, but he’s not new to the Island. Before becoming a lifeguard, he worked for the . According to Tuff, Giampapa is becoming an avid reader, and his current obsession is “The Hunger Games.”
Luther Burbank Beach has seen an increase in usage because of the many day camps that visit its premises. The lifeguards work closely with the camps, building a rapport with the kids, but on rainy days, when they’re not saving lives, they work maintenance.
“They have a unique life guarding,” said Daly.