Tylösand is one of Sweden's most popular beaches and during the summer there can be more than 40,000 visitors on the beach every day. While most beachgoers will have a fun time, some may get into a bit of a spot. And when something goes wrong and every second counts, whom can they turn to? Why, the lifeguards on Tylösand beach, of course.
Lifeguards have been a familiar sight on Tylösand beach, keeping beachgoers safe for nearly sixty years now. (Tylösand beach was the first in Sweden to have lifeguards patrolling its shores as early as 1958.) Every summer, the lifeguards here save nearly a hundred people. Pernilla Isaksson is one of Sweden’s finest lifeguards having been on the job for 15 years now. And eight of those years she has spent her summers at Tylösand.
“The best thing about this job is that you help others. We work as a team and have a lot of fun. You can motor a boat, paddle out into the water or ride a quad bike. We render aid for everything – from sunstroke to helping find lost children to drowning incidents.”
Pernilla grew up in the Stockholm archipelago and has always loved water. When she retired as an elite swimmer, she wanted to find something else to do that involved water and that’s what got her on the road to becoming a lifeguard. Since Sweden’s only lifeguard school is in Tylösand, it was also where she finally ended up.
“I have lived in Halland for quite a few years now and I believe that I will continue to live here. The best thing about Halland is the proximity to the sea. I can paddle, swim or paddle out on a stand up paddleboard before work and it is absolutely amazing.”
The rescue work at Tylösand is completely non-profit and during the summer months, there are about 17 lifeguards on duty. The team is divided into two – one team patrols the beach while the other team maintains their life-saving equipment like boats, jetskis and jeeps. They start their day with a morning briefing followed by a compulsory swim in the sea so that everyone becomes aware of how the sea is behaving on that day. Then it’s work all day long until 6pm where the day ends with a compulsory evening dip.
“The compulsory swims are super-important. You can never know how the sea is going to behave without venturing into it. We have a saying: Water is not dangerous; ignorance is. So one of the things we try and do is talk to the bathers and swimmers about water safety.”
About fifteen years ago, Pernilla started a lifeguard school for children. For the first few years she had around ten students, but today that count has gone up to a hundred. More and more young people are interested in this subject and want to learn more about the sea, currents and life saving.\
It has become very popular and we train every day irrespective of the weather. Sometimes it is on land, but mostly we are in the water. We all wear wetsuits, so the children really don’t care if the weather is bad.
The lifeguard school for children is a good way to get them to learn more about the water, how the sea can behave in different weather conditions and life saving. Many of the accidents that happen in water could be avoided if more people had knowledge of the sea and the forces that govern it.
“It is so awesome to see the joy in the children’s eyes when they’re in the water. And it’s comforting to know that they feel both joy and respect for the sea.”