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Coming in Cold.

 

SAN CLEMENTE, -(CA)- Ian Kos knew exactly what he had to do for the San Clemente city lifeguard tryouts Sunday morning. After all, the 16-year-old’s mother, Sandy, was San Clemente’s first female city lifeguard.

“My mom told me to keep my head down, get out past the breakers as fast as I could, give it lots of kick, ignore the cold and catch a wave in,” Kos said. “I have been preparing for this my whole life.”

According to San Clemente Marine Safety Lt. Rod Mellott, 32 applicants came out early Sunday to brave 58-degree water to try for six or seven jobs the city has to offer for this summer’s beach season June 24 to Sept. 5. Hopefuls had to be available to work 40 hours a week for starting pay of $15.69 an hour. They will complement the 45-member lifeguard department.

Finished.

But to even earn a chance to interview for a spot in the 92-hour lifeguard training program that starts April 16, applicants Sunday had to swim 800 yards in the ocean, followed by a 1,200-yard run/swim/run – without the benefit of fins, wetsuits or goggles.

Those invited for interviews will be notified within a week whether they will advance to the training course, Mellott said.

Mellott detailed basic safety guidelines, reminding the applicants to be careful about unseen submerged obstacles in the surf. He also instructed them to clearly raise their hand if they found themselves in trouble during the swim so that lifeguards standing by on longboards could assist them.

 

Number two and ready to rock.

Elizabeth Strain, 16, a Capistrano Valley High School sophomore and swim team member, admitted being a little nervous for her first tryout, but she was mostly concerned about the cold.

“I hate the cold; the swim will be easy,” said Strain, of Mission Viejo.

Pat Cary, 26, of San Juan Capistrano, who placed 10th in the 2008 U.S. Olympic swim trials, was first out of the water after the 800-yard swim, finishing about 100 yards ahead of the next-closest finisher, Monder Elouaer, 24, of Aliso Viejo, a swimmer for the Saddleback College Gauchos.

Rachyl Quan, 18, a member of the Mission Viejo Nadadores swim team, was the first female swimmer, and third overall, out of the water.

 

All accounted for and on the line.

In all, 15 swimmers were chosen to continue to the 1,200-yard run/swim/run.

More than 150 family members and friends gathered around the Marine Safety headquarters near the San Clemente Pier to cheer on sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and significant others. Just before the run/swim/run, Kelton McMain, already a San Clemente city lifeguard, held his brother and lifeguard hopeful Ian McMain, 16, by the arms, shaking him gently back and forth while reminding him not to run out too hard and to, in the last leg, give it everything he had.

Joel Rodgers, whose son Tyler made it to the final selection, stood at a beach transition flag along the course and could be heard above everyone else shouting advice down the beach to his son to ignore the cold and not give up.

Cary, the Olympic hopeful, again finished first, encouraging his competitors with low-fives as he passed them in the opposite direction on the final leg of the run. Each applicant to cross the line quickly wrapped up in towels, hats and jackets, with teeth and limbs chattering while receiving hugs and smiles from supporters and sipping tea or coffee.

 

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The traditional June gloom in San ClementeIt seems to me that when I was a kid and the end of the school year was at hand, the only thing to fear was the brutal 10 days or so of June Gloom.  Yes, I said 10 days…only.  June gloom as of recent times almost seems to start in April and doesn’t give up until the end of July.

 

Think back and you’ll agree.  The last few July 4th’s we’ve had have barely let the sun through.  Now its true they all mix together somewhat with age and everything going on but then, its no excuse to hand over a grey, dull summer.

 

Two weeks ago, the rain had me worried and I confess that at the house we’ve even had the heater on.  This is definitely not something I want the relatives in the Pacific Northwest, back east, Chile and Norway to find out about.  After all, we’ll see them all here at some point this summer and I prefer it if they are as envious as I can make them.

 

This week it seems to be clearing up by late morning but then mother nature, is full of surprises.  She’d like nothing more than that we get our hopes up and then dash them on the rocks.  I for one will wish for an easy entry into summer but nothing more; otherwise, we’ll be asking for trouble.  I know that no sooner than I have written these words and it will be labor day.  Shorter days will bring shorter memories. 

 

We had burgers on Sunday for dinner.  Even June gloom can’t hold down that rich smell of a neighbor’s bar-b-que, reminding us that no matter what the weather is, summer is almost here.  The dread of traffic and crowded beaches comes later.  First things first; our gas bar-b-que has had it and so I’ll be off to get a new one this weekend.  Like my dad used to say “…I wonder what the poor folks are doing?…”   

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