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Questions For: Brent Marshall 

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Areas district superintendent

Ed. note: Lifeguard tryouts will take place March 9 at 9 a.m. at the base of Grand Avenue in Grover Beach. A picture ID is required and minors must have a parent or guardian present. Applicants must pass a 1,000-yard open ocean swim in less than 20 minutes and a continuous 200-yard run, 400-yard swim, and 200-yard run in less than 10 minutes. Registration begins at 8:15. Wetsuits are recommended.

New Times: With the off-road recreation at the Oceano Dunes, this isn’t your ordinary beach. What makes lifeguarding there unique?

Marshall: The Oceano Dunes District of the beach is primarily focused on the SVRA off-roading. There are riding areas out there, and there are people here that come to primarily ride, but what’s the same with other beaches is that our lifeguards get great training, starting with two weeks of primary training in Huntington Beach. That’s what makes it the same.

New Times: What sets this beach apart then?

Marshall: What makes it different here is that they help out and do first aid and help out with the SVRA. There are a lot of people that come to the Oceano Dunes for all different kinds of reasons, especially to ride. Oftentimes, some of those people see the beach and decide that looks rather inviting, so there are people going into the ocean that may not have originally planned on it. This makes the job of interacting with the public especially crucial and rewarding for our lifeguards.

New Times: Sounds like they have their hands full?

Marshall: Yep. It’s a very challenging and rewarding place to work.

New Times: How old are lifeguards, generally?

Marshall: They can try out when they’re 16, with a parent or guardian approval, or 18 without. Some places in the state, especially down south, there are doctors or school teachers. There is a guy in Ventura who’s a physician and well over 50, and if you’re drowning, he’s the right guy to have rescue you.

New Times: In the long term, how do your lifeguards benefit from this job?

Marshall: Lifeguarding introduces many skills to young people, like showing up on time and being diligent in your work. When people are placed in a job with potential for events that can result in life-or-death situations, it really teaches individuals to work as a team.

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