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Lifeguards report record-breaking year for ocean rescues

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego lifeguards are having a record-breaking year when it comes rescues.

At Mission Beach, San Diego lifeguards reported over 2,000 rescues in July and over 4,000 within San Diego limits.

“We’re currently at 8,600 rescues. Last year, for the full calendar year, we were at 7,300. So, we are well above last year’s pace,” said San Diego lifeguards Lt. Rick Romero.

The last all-time high for an entire year was in 1993 at 7,446, according to San Diego lifeguards.

Long-time surfer John Handley says it makes sense. “Last week the water was very warm, right so obviously lots of people come to the water for that and the surf was big. So, when you have those two combinations that’s what created the problem,” said Handley.

“Last week the water was very warm, so obviously lots of people come to the water for that and the surf was big. So, when you have those two combinations, that’s what created the problem,” Handley said.

Romero couldn’t agree more, saying San Diego beaches have had constant surf the entire summer.

“This past summer we’ve had swells from the south coming in, four to five-foot range that kept rip currents flowing the whole entire summer. The beach was torn up as far as the sand with currents,” he said.

With the water reaching 76 degrees for the majority of the summer, Romero says more people were hitting the surf.

“Same amount of people, just more people are going in the water. Talking with other agencies within San Diego up in Oceanside, Solana Beach, Del Mar, they’ve seen crowds grow and they’ve also seen their count high as well,” Romero said.

Handley said in his years of surfing he has noticed beachgoers tend to underestimate the strength of the current, even in waste-high waters.

“You can’t fight the current the current is going to win,” Handley said.

The surf has calmed down from July and August, but San Diego lifeguards still want to remind folks to swim with a buddy in case of an emergency.