By Carly Layne

Surf & SUP : Ride the Wave

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An Interview with Tom Trager

With the weather warming up, there’s no doubt that everyone is going to want to go to Laguna’s beautiful beaches and swim in  the ocean. We talked with Marine Safety Captain Tom Trager about some basic safety tips to keep in mind before you dive in.

Q: Tom, it’s my understanding that you’re Marine Safety Captain for Laguna Beach. Can you tell us a little about what your job entails?

A: My responsibilities include running department operations, training, scheduling, department payroll, statistics tracking, and serving as the departments watch commander.  The primary functions of a full time Marine Safety Officer for the City of Laguna Beach are to perform ocean rescues, provide medical aid, prevention, education, enforce city municipal code, California Boating and waterway laws, and California Fish and Wildlife Laws.  They also make thousands of public contacts each year and serve as ambassadors for the city helping its visitors with everything from staying safe on our beaches, to where to have a nice meal with their family.

Q: I’m sure you’ve spent a good amount of time around several beaches. What do you think makes Laguna’s beaches so fantastic?

A: Lagunas beaches are unique in that they are for the most part small isolated coves.  They have a lot of character and are obviously beautiful.  The isolation of the individual beaches is also what makes them difficult to guard (backup and visibility), and why our lifeguard academy for our rookies is so rigorous and thorough.

Q: What would you say is the safest and least safe time for folks to go out into the water?

A: When the surf gets big, all of our beaches become dangerous.  Laguna has no beaches fully protected from ocean swells.  All our beaches are generally safe when the surf is very small and green flag.

Q: Do you have any advice you’d like to give folks going out to our beaches, especially for this upcoming spring and summer season?

A: For advice I would say to check in with a lifeguard when going to the beach.  Conditions and hazards on the beach change from day to day.  Also, know your limitations.  Don’t go into the ocean when there is surf and swell larger than you can handle.  If your not sure, ask a lifeguard.

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