Occupational fitness and strength standards for beach lifeguarding

Tara Reilly, Mike Tipton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Historically, physical employment standards (PES), including those for beach lifeguards (BLGs), were not based on scientific evidence. Occupations with a physical component were often linked to height and weight standards, age or gender, with the assumption that these identifiers were indicative of the ability to perform physical tasks. Over time these assumptions have been challenged; in 1971 the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation was not able to defend why Candy Callery, a female BLG applicant, was denied employment as a lifeguard because of her failure to meet the minimum height and weight requirements (at least 5'7" and 61.2 kg [135 lbs]) [1]. Without doubt, anthropometry can be linked to the ability to perform heavy lifting tasks [2]. In fact, the ability to cross-chest tow an unconscious victim 100 m in 6 minutes has been linked to deltoid circumference [3]. Michniewicz et al. [4] indicate that heavy, muscular victims with a large chest circumference are difficult to encircle and hold by a lifeguard. However, as most physically demanding tasks within an occupation are trainable, it is no longer acceptable to discriminate based on weight or height, and task-related standards should be independent of age or gender [5]. Often those who are smaller will adapt to find ways to safely and successfully accomplish a task.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Science of Beach Lifeguarding
EditorsMike Tipton, Adam Wooler
PublisherCRC Press Inc
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781315362496
ISBN (Print)9781482245974
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2016


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