junior lifeguard class (copy)

A lifeguard, Jake Becker, talks about his job with some of the older Junior Guards in 2017 near a lifeguard tower.

Seal Beach's Junior Lifeguard program was canceled last week due to concerns of spreading the coronavirus.

“We waited as long as possible to make this decision in the hopes things would change,” Seal Beach Marine Safety Chief Joe Bailey said. “It was a difficult decision and we wanted to give participants and their families as much notice as possible. Our goal is to remain responsive to the community’s needs and to ensure the safety, security, health for all in Seal Beach.”

Long Beach officials are continuing to weigh options and consult with experts before making a decision.

“We are modeling what it would look like given different scenarios and evaluating if it’s even possible with the current guidelines,” Marine Safety Chief Gonzalo Medina said Monday.

Long Beach’s program, which last year saw about 600 young swimmers, has a strong history and many happy alums.

The most vintage photo on the Long Beach Junior Lifeguard Facebook page was taken back in 1974 — one of the tallest and without a doubt blondest Junior Guards in the photo is Bill Holford.

“It was a great experience," Holford said. "I was super intimidated by the older guys — especially Dick Miller. The Junior Guard experience was one I’ll never forget.

“I lived on Bayshore during the ’60s, and I’d walk to the lifeguard station. A group of us — Jim Wood, Steve Holms and others swam in races in third, fourth and fifth grades — the lifeguards would take us out in the dory boats. It was amazing.”

Dick Miller, who to this day everyone calls Chief Miller, started as a seasonal lifeguard in 1950, and went on to serve as chief lifeguard from 1974 to 1984. He was appointed manager of city marinas in 1984. He addressed the seriousness of choosing to conduct the program this year or not:

“They will need to be cautious regarding the decision, based upon health department advice.”

A decision on the fate of this year’s program is expected this week.

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