Newport’s junior lifeguard season kicks off near Balboa Pier

Zach Kittleson, right, does push-ups on the sand near Balboa Pier.
Zach Kittleson, right, does push-ups with his group of junior lifeguards near Balboa Pier in Newport Beach.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

With the summer arrives the junior lifeguard season in Newport Beach and other local coastal towns.

Tuesday kicked off the seven-week-long program that invites children, ages 9 to 15, from all over the city down to Balboa Pier, where lifeguard instructors train them on ocean safety, swimming skills and the role that ocean lifeguards play in beach safety. The program has run for 38 years and is seen by a number of residents as a rite of passage.

A group of Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards does log rolls.
A group of Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards does log rolls into the water.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

About 1,485 kids are participating this year. Newport Beach fire department spokesman Natalie May said it’s an above average turnout for the program, which is divided into two sessions — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. There are 43 instructors and group leaders.

Some of the youths did push-ups while others did log rolls and hit the waters on a warm and sunny afternoon as instructors watched or, in many cases, participated alongside them.

The California Coastal Commission recently approved project plans for a junior lifeguards headquarters in the A Street parking lot south of Balboa Pier. Original estimates place construction to begin sometime this September with completion expected in May 2023.

A group of Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards jump into a wave.
A group of Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards jump into a wave near Balboa Pier on the first day of the 2022 Newport Beach junior lifeguards program.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.