More Milwaukee County beach lifeguards wanted

High winds expected Sunday, Aug. 1 could create some potentially dangerous conditions for Lake Michigan swimmers.

Milwaukee County is looking for more lifeguards to watch beaches. Beachgoer Jeffrey Johnikin wishes he saw them at Bradford Beach.

"As long as I can remember, there hasn’t been any lifeguards. It’s pretty much been swim at your own risk," said Johnikin. "They do have the public safety officers out here but still, there’s no life guards at all. And as you can see there is multiple kids, people out here – no lifeguard."

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Fifty-six people drowned in Lake Michigan in 2020 according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

"2020 was the deadliest year on record on Lake Michigan that we have tracked since we began tracking in 2010," said Dave Benjamin, Great Lakes Surf Rescue project executive director.

Bradford Beach, Milwaukee

Benjamin said there have been 23 drowning on Lake Michigan so far this year, including a 53-year-old man who drowned at South Shore Park in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, July 28.

Even the strongest swimmers can be caught off guard, Benajmin said – reminding anyone to flip, float and follow if they get caught in a current.

"Flip over on their back and float, keep their head above water, calm themselves down from the panic of drowning and conserve the energy," said Benjamin. "Then follow a safe path out of the water."

People swimming in Lake Michigan

A resolution to bring more lifeguards to Milwaukee County passed unanimously Thursday – increasing pay with bonuses and training expenses covered. Benjamin said it's a step in the right direction for public safety along the beautiful – but deadly – lake.

"Illinois has a pretty large presence for lifeguards on its beaches. Milwaukee, not so much," said Benjamin.

Even if they don't like it, any easy way to protect kids in the water is stepping a life vest on.


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