Beach patrol officials urge late summer swimmers to seek out guarded beaches

HARVEY CEDARS, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A warm and sunny forecast will likely draw people to the Jersey shore this weekend, but with a high risk for rip currents, beach patrol officials are urging swimmers to be careful.

The surfers were loving the waves in Harvey Cedars, New Jersey on Friday, and so were families squeezing in one last shore trip.

"A nice surprise, a nice way to end the summer," said Lynn Goldkamp of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

Lifeguards were keeping a close eye on folks in the water, with yellow flags flying.

September is a tough month for many beach patrols at the Jersey shore.

"Typically August we lose the majority of our staff," said Chief Randy Townsend, of Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol. "Whether they may be educators or individuals going back to college. It gets a little dicey in the second two weeks in August and then through September."

Lifeguards say tropical activity has created some dangerous conditions over the past few weeks. This week alone, Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol has rescued six swimmers in distress.

Usually the conditions that follow these coastal storms and hurricanes that come up the coast are these bluebird sky days that you see here. With some residual swell in the water from these passing storms," said Townsend.

Those swells draw surfers, who sometimes are the first ones to reach swimmers who need help. Last fall, Barnegat Light First Aid Squad Captain Bob Selfridge started a new training program just for surfers.

"We're training surfers in the rescue techniques that they might need to assist a drowning victim. Right now we're finding that these surfers are the ones that are first responding to these because they're already in the water, they're on the beach, They see people in trouble," said Selfridge.

That program is called SALT, which stands for Surfers as Lifesavers Team. Selfridge says they've trained about 75 surfers on Long Beach Island so far.

As for this weekend, beach patrol officials urge you to check which beaches are guarded and stick to those spots for swimming.
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