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UC San Diego Renews Lifeguard Services at Black’s Beach

Since services were restored in March 2011, lifeguards at Black’s Beach have made 67 water rescues, performed 360 minor medical aids as well as 17 serious medical aids requiring hospital transport. Photo by Brian Auer

The University of California, San Diego is renewing its contract with the City of San Diego to maintain full-time lifeguard services at Black’s Beach to ensure safety for members of the campus and local community.

Since services were restored in March 2011, lifeguards at Black’s Beach have made 67 water rescues, performed 360 minor medical aids as well as 17 serious medical aids requiring hospital transport.

Many of the rescues were documented by the lifeguards as being either staff or students at UC San Diego.

Among these rescues was UC San Diego freshman Cyrus Jahanian. Jahanian took his two cousins, who were visiting from ­­­Northern California, to Black’s Beach to enjoy the surf; however, a strong riptide dragged the three swimmers 50 feet offshore where they were battling five-foot high waves. “If the lifeguards hadn’t saved us, we would not have made it,” Jahanian said. “The water at Black’s can be unpredictable and you have students at UC San Diego who want to enjoy what’s right across the street from them––it’s crucial that lifeguards protect the shores of Black’s Beach.”

Located just west of the UC San Diego campus, Black’s Beach is famous for its natural beauty and world-renowned surf break. It’s also known for its surrounding dangers: unstable cliffs and frequent riptides––all of which are naturally occurring conditions. As part of San Diego Lifeguard efforts to keep Black’s Beach safe within the last year, the lifeguards made 6,643 preventative acts and responded to 29 cliff rescue calls. 

The UC San Diego surf team is among the regular visitors to the beach, practicing every week at Black’s throughout the academic year.

“Lifeguarding on Black’s Beach directly impacts UC San Diego due to the number of students and faculty that visit the beach year-round,” said Gary Matthews, UC San Diego’s vice-chancellor of Resource Management and Planning. “Plus, the beach and surrounding cliffs are in part owned by UC San Diego.”

“UC San Diego is providing an absolutely essential public service,” said City of San Diego Lifeguard lieutenant, John Everhart. “Having lifeguards staff Black’s Beach saves lives. It’s a remote beach that is popular with surfers, swimmers and boogie boarders.  Having lifeguards on this stretch of beach is essential and the university should be commended for their dedication to keeping both their students, and the community at large, safe.”

In March 2011, UC San Diego, working with the City of San Diego, helped restore year-round patrol after lifeguard services were reduced because of the city’s deficit-strapped budget. At the time, the closest city lifeguards to Black’s Beach were at La Jolla Shores, with a response time of about eight minutes. However, time is of the essence if someone is struggling in strong ocean conditions, according to Everhart.

The UC San Diego surf team is among the regular visitors to the beach, practicing every week at Black’s throughout the academic year.

“There are many emergency scenarios that can happen down there,” said UC San Diego junior and surf team member Shaun Burrell. “Even for advanced surfers, freak accidents can happen such as hitting your head on your board and getting knocked out. Having lifeguards at Black’s Beach year-round provides a sense of safety and security to beachgoers.”