Limited lifeguards as school year begins
DARIEN — With school starting at the end of August, there will be limited lifeguard coverage at Weed and Pear Tree Point beaches.
Jackie Larson, a waterfront coordinator in Darien, said signs will be placed on both beaches to tell residents the availability for lifeguards. Guarded swim areas will be determined by lifeguards on a daily basis, but there may be days when there aren’t enough lifeguards to sustain coverage at both beaches, she said.
“We’ll keep them at Weed Beach because we find we get more children there due to the playground,” Larson said. “We’ll keep Weed Beach open as long as we can and our season ends on Labor Day.”
Typically there are three to five lifeguards on duty, depending on the time of day. Larson said between the busiest hours — noon and 4 p.m. — they have five lifeguards on the beach. All of the lifeguards are paid and certified.
Lauren Picard, a first-time lifeguard and senior at Darien High School, said she became involved after her mother got her an application. As a swimmer on Darien High’s swim team, she said this job fits her well.
“I’ve always been really comfortable in the water. I thought it would be a perfect job for me,” she said. “I was actually certified two years ago, but this year felt right.”
Her shift is usually 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or noon to 6 pm. On days like Fourth of July, the shift may be longer depending on what is needed. Picard said there hasn’t been as many people on the beach this year compared to her previous experiences.
“This year there were fewer patrons just because it’s been so hot and muggy,” Picard said. “Especially at Weed, it gets really humid.”
Head lifeguard Jay Dickson also said beach usage this year was relatively low compared to previous summers.
“This one (summer) has been slower especially through the month of August,” he said. “Last year it was really sunny, so the beach was always packed. This year was quiet.”
A veteran lifeguard, Dickson has been involved for four summers. However, this was his first year as head lifeguard for Dickson.
“As head lifeguard you kind of have a bit more responsibility. You have to ensure everybody’s on time for their shifts,” he said. “Also communicating between the waterfront coordinators and the lifeguards to make sure we can do the job successfully.”
Dickson said his first summer as head lifeguard has been fun and he had a strong team to work with.
“One of the good things about this place is everyone is really a part of the team and everyone does what’s asked of them,” he said.
Dickson said he has enjoyed his new job, despite the slower summer.
“On the busy days the days go by a lot faster,” he said. “But the quieter days can be easier because there aren’t as many people. So you’re not as stressed.”