Lifeguards stand watch in good and bad weather
The town-owned beach at Mackerel Cove opens this Saturday with a complement of five lifeguards for the 2006 season, said town Recreation Director Matt Bolles.
"We'll have four or five guards on the beach on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer. On weekdays, we'll rotate teams of three, so everybody will get a day off," he added.
"Even during inclement weather. We might send one or two home if the weather is really bad and nobody is on the beach, but if they are scheduled and want to work, they can stay," he noted.
"The only time the beach will be officially closed is when the state mandates that all beaches must be evacuated, like during a severe tropical storm or hurricane," Bolles said.
"We're open for business rain or shine," said three-year veteran and head lifeguard Kyle Halavik. "When the weather's not so good, and the beach is close to deserted - that's when people decide to break the rules. They try to do things like run their dogs without leashes, and pets aren't allowed on the beach anyway, even in bad weather. Since it's a family oriented facility, we try to keep everything as clean as possible, and safety rules have to constantly be enforced, he said.
"Some people don't like being told about the rules, so I usually end up fielding the complaints. Being the head lifeguard, complaints go with the territory," he said.
"Other than that, it's a great job. Most people are nice, and they usually follow the rules. The beach is a real safe place for kids. Since the cove doesn't get any big waves we don't have to worry about swimmers being washed out to sea. And in three years, I've never had to save anyone from drowning or any other disaster. I've administered some minor first aid a couple of times, but that's as exciting as it gets. I like being a lifeguard because it's outside in the fresh air, and that's what you want to do in the summer anyway. If there is a down side, I guess it's occasionally being bored during the week when the beach is quiet," he noted.
Kyle Halavik lives in Saunderstown. He is a sophomore at the University of Rhode Island, where he is majoring in physical therapy.
Mariah Vietri is a first-year lifeguard. However, she has worked for the town recreation department for three years. "I started with the litter corps, then I was an assistant gymnastics coach for real little kids up to 12 years old. I think the youngest were about four," she said.
"They were so cute," she added. "I decided that I'd like to be a lifeguard, so I took a lifeguard course at the Newport YMCA and got certified. Since I grew up in Jamestown, I've gone to Mackerel Cove all my life. I love it there," she said.
"I don't think I could ask for a better job. It's outdoors and in the sunshine. It's a great opportunity to stay in shape, and that's important to me. I guess the only thing I fear is if I had to deal with a shark encounter. I don't think I'd like that," she concluded.
Mariah Vietri, 18, has lived on Top O' the Mark at the north end of the island all her life. She attended Jamestown schools through eighth grade and graduated from Rocky Hill School this spring. She will attend Roanoke University in Virginia in the fall and major in international relations or business.