SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (ValleyCentral) —There is a shortage of lifeguards nationwide and South Padre Island is no exception.

Lifeguards help keep swimmers safe where ever you go. The training they undergo is more complex than others may think.

To become a beach lifeguard, you have to be at least sixteen years of age, pass a sports physical and be able to swim 500 meters in under 10 minutes. That’s a length of more than five football fields. 

The training is about 60 hours long for entry-level lifeguards.

Cameron County Beach Patrol Chief Arturo Hurtado says the test is physically and mentally exhausting so lifeguards are prepared to act in all situations.

“It’s going to be a big mix of physical, medical and classroom work. Every day we have certain drills that we put the lifeguards through to get them used to going in the water, show them how to enter, how to safely approach victims, how to pull people out, how to work as a team, be able to identify issues and most importantly be able to prevent things before they happen,” Hurtado said.

Ocean lifeguards, like those on the island, undergo more rigorous training than pool lifeguards.

The lifeguard towers will be put up starting Friday.

The beach patrol covers Isla Blanca including beach access four, five and six. While not all beaches might have a lifeguard tower, they still patrol the area.

One of the most important things is always to keep an eye on children, especially when they’re in the water, even if a lifeguard is present.

If you have an emergency at the beach, don’t hesitate to call 911.

“We have warning systems throughout the parks that have color flags. Pay attention to the color flags. We have contact information online. You can reach out to us; pay attention to your local weather and what to expect for the day, and the heat takes a toll as well,” Hurtado said.

Staying hydrated, applying lots of sunscreens, and wearing proper swim gear is also important. If you’re driving on the beach, be mindful of beachgoers walking into the water, especially children. They can easily dart away from your parents and in the path of your moving vehicle.

If interested in becoming a lifeguard, you can contact or call (956) 455-8727.