LIFEGUARDS in Lahinch performed 43% of all rescues in water-based amenities in the country in 2020, writes Dan Danaher.
Councillor Liam Grant has revealed that lifeguards in Lahinch performed more rescues than counties Kerry, Cork, Donegal and Sligo combined last year.
Speaking at a meeting of Clare County Council, he outlined Lahinch lifeguards completed 208 out of the 473 water rescues last year.
The Green Party councillor called on Clare County Council to provide a fulltime lifeguard service for the month of June at the busiest beaches in the county.
“With the increase in popularity of sea swimming and other water sports, there is now a need for lifeguards every day at the most popular beaches during the month of June.”
He congratulated Clare McGrath on her appointment as chairperson of Water Safety Ireland, having done so much work to promote water safety in recent decades.
The Lahinch councillor said there is a large increase in the number of people sea swimming throughout the year.
He said increasing the provision of lifeguards particularly on busy beaches in Lahinch and Spanish Point made them lot safer to use for members of the public.
If lifeguards are available to provide cover in June, he said this would be great. If not, he added this would be unfortunate.
Anyone who visited Lahinch recently would have seen hundreds of people in the water.
He proposed there is scope for moving the starting time for lifeguards from 11 am to 9am in view of the increased number of people swimming earlier in the day.
Councillor Joe Garrihy recalled the council reacted quickly last year to provide lifeguard cover when it was requested.
“The whole world has changed with Covid-19. People are swimming in the water all year round.”
Stressing the importance of personal responsibility, he said this can be enhanced with more education public awareness about safe swimming practices.
Councillor Pat Burke said sometimes the weather can be better in June than July.
Councillor Joe Killeen recalled the number of people swimming on beaches along the west coast last year was hard to believe and said there is also a big increase in sea walking and swimming in the Autumn.
Councillor Cillian Murphy said any measure that can extend the tourism season is very welcome and stressed that lifeguards should be provided on busy beaches for at least three months of the year.
Senior engineer, Cyril Feeney stated the deployment of fulltime lifeguards in the month of June will be contingent on their availability as their lifeguards are drawn primarily from second and third level students.
“Once the lifeguard interview and fitness assessment process is completed in the coming months, availability will then be determined. It is premature to commit at this time to their deployment for the full month of June but every effort will be made to extend lifeguard cover.”