This is no Baywatch, says Camps Bay lifeguard

2015-12-22 08:13
Mzikayise Jacobs (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Mzikayise Jacobs (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - In the 17 years he has been guarding the Mother City coastline, no one has drowned under Mzikayise Jacobs’s watch. And he wants to keep it that way, he says, constantly scanning the busy Camps Bay shore.

Jacobs, 35, is one of 105 lifeguards on duty this holiday season at beaches across Cape Town.

He and his team say they are ready for the busy December/January period which sees locals and tourists flock to beaches, no matter the temperature.

While his job involves sun, sand and spending time in the sea, it is anything but a breeze, he said.

“It’s not like Baywatch,” he laughed. “I would have loved for it to be like that, but this is real life.”

Lifeguards have to constantly be on the alert and keep watch for signs of distress while monitoring what can be up to thousands of bathers.

“It’s our job to oversee that those who visit here are safe and able to have fun. Most of the bathers come with their families, and it is especially important for me to see that just as they arrive here safely, they leave together at the end of the day.”

An experienced water polo player, Jacobs oversees a group of four to six lifeguards.

Seventeen years ago he joined the Mnandi Lifesaving Club in Mitchells Plain after being part of a Gugulethu swimming club.

He volunteered as a lifeguard and received further training for, among others, as swimming instructor and to do first aid. 

While his job is one of very few which allows him to work barefoot, there is nothing chilled about the responsibility he and his team has to the public, Jacobs pointed out.

“It’s about putting the lives of others first – that’s one of my passions.” 

He believes he has the best job in the world, but irresponsible beachgoers gets him hot under the collar.

“I dislike it [when] mothers leave their children unattended, when bathers swim outside the designated area or people come to the beach drunk,” Jacobs said.

He emphasised the importance of responsible behaviour when taking a trip to the beach.

“Always listen to the lifeguard on duty,” he urged. “Respond when they blow their whistle and swim only where permitted.”

Always swim with a friend or partner and don’t try to save someone in distress, Jacobs said.

“A trip to the beach should be fun. Don’t make it a sad experience.”

Read more on:    cape town  |  festive season

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