Retired doctor wraps up summer season as rookie lifeguard in Atlantic City

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Thursday, August 31, 2023
Retired doctor wraps up summer as rookie lifeguard in Atlantic City
Retired Doctor Marc Plotnick wrapping up summer season as rookie lifeguard in Atlantic City, New Jersey

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- After a 30-year career in medicine, it didn't take Dr. Marc Plotnick long to figure out how he wanted to spend his retirement, since he grew up coming to the shore every summer.

He says he remembers seeing the lifeguards out in the boats when he was a kid and thinking "it looked like a pretty cool thing to do."

On July 1, he became a lifeguard with the Atlantic City Beach Patrol.

"They're paying me to hang out at the beach. I mean, doesn't get any better than that," says Plotnick.

He was worried he might be too old, but says "there were no upper age limits." His neighbor, Deputy Chief Dave Russo, has been part of the beach patrol since 1977.

"He did everything I asked him to do to train," says Russo.

Plotnick met the challenge, passing the test. And there are a lot of requirements.

Russo says you must "row the boat to the flag, turn properly," as well as "run a half mile in 3:45."

"You've got to swim 200 meters in four minutes and 500 meters in less than ten minutes," said Russo.

"They have a rookie academy where they teach you how to be a lifeguard," says Plotnick.

He says his main responsibility as a lifeguard is to "watch the water."

"And you're making an assessment - Is this person okay?" he says.

Another important skill is knowing how to spot riptides, which he says he learned from the more experienced guards.

"There is a whole culture here - a lot younger people than me," says Plotnick.

He says it's been "an eye opener" and "a really great experience."

"I have to say that they've taken me in with open arms. They've been very kind to me," says Plotnick.

Russo says Plotnick fits in well with the rest of the guards.

"They call him 'Marc the beast.' He's just a great lifeguard," says Russo.

Russo says A.C. lifeguards make about 1,000 rescues a year, but there's been an overall shortage of lifeguards around the country.

"If you can pass the test, we need you," he says.

Russo says you can get a lot of satisfaction out of making rescues and helping people on the job.

"Saving lives - it's what it's all about," he says.

Plotnick currently works on the beach six days a week and will be there through the end of September to wrap up the summer season.

"It's just been a blast," he says.

For more information or if you'd like to join the Atlantic City Beach Patrol, CLICK HERE.