L.A. County lifeguards shatter their ocean rescue record

Lifeguard Morgan Wallace watches the water in Venice, next to the pier.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County lifeguards have already rescued more people in 2014 than they have in any single year in the department’s history, officials said Thursday.

And there’s still two months to go.

From Jan. 1 to Nov. 3, lifeguards performed 14,331 ocean rescues, shattering the record set in 1997 of 14,096. The department’s 20-year average is about 9,670 rescues.

In announcing the record, Acting Chief Lifeguard Steve Moseley said the consistently warm weather this year and unusually tumultuous surf have combined to draw more people to the beach while at the same time creating dangerous conditions.


During the peak of a heat wave in September, lifeguards made 187 rescues in a single day – 88 of them at Venice Beach alone.

A year of strong Pacific storms eroded the county’s beaches more than usual and carved dips and holes along the shore below the water that created stronger rip currents, Moseley said. At the same time, California is experiencing its warmest year since record-keeping began, which lured nearly 70.5 million people to the county’s beaches – 15 million more than the average.

“This milestone is one that we can proudly celebrate today and positively reflect upon in the years to come,” Moseley said in a statement.

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