Cameron County Beach Patrol readies lifeguard recruits
By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
A trio of would-be ocean lifeguards raced towards the surf near the jetties at Isla Blanca Park Tuesday, their heels kicking up sand and sprays of saltwater as they went. Their eyes focused keenly on the distance where the largest waves crashed against a sandbar. As they ran, their hands finessed the straps of bright red flotation devices over their heads and across their shoulders, letting the float drag behind them unencumbered.
Once they reached water deep enough to hinder the speed of their footfalls, they dove in and began to swim. After a couple dozen yards, they about-faced and returned to shore, to their fellow trainees who awaited a slap of the hands that would signal the next runner in the relay.
The 12 trainees, clad in swim trunks and two-piece swimsuits the fiery red color of lifeguard uniforms any fan of that old television show, Baywatch, would instantly recognize, completed several turns in the impromptu relay. It was half speed test, half acclimation exercise aimed at building the type of endurance needed to withstand the battering waves of South Padre Island.
From the shore, Art Hurtado watched as his recruits raced back and forth. Hurtado is the chief lifeguard at the Cameron County Beach Patrol (CCBP). From Memorial Day until Labor Day, CCBP lifeguards patrol some of the Island’s most popular beach accesses, including Isla Blanca Park, Andy Bowie Park, and County Accesses 3, 4 and 5, Hurtado said.
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