MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A Myrtle Beach beach service has spoken for the first time since major changes were made to lifeguard rules in late March.

John’s Beach Service spoke with News13 about the recent rule changes and what they have meant for its lifeguards.

Lifeguards must fit very specific requirements and certifications, while beach tenants don’t need to be as certified but still have the opportunity to get paid more from tips.

A beach tenant told News13’s Claire Purnell that his shift doesn’t go by as fast now since he no longer interacts as much with the lifeguard, but he does believe it is best for the safety of the people on the beach.

“As far as our lifeguards are concerned, obviously, you know the stipulations are a lot more stringent,” said Nick Jackson, co-owner of John’s Beach Service. “I’ve got to be able to pass the timed swim, got to be 16-years-old. I’ve got to be really — above all else they have got to be a good moral character. I personally interview every single one.”

Since lifeguards can no longer do both water safety and concessions, beach services now have to hire separate beach tenants.

“As far as the attendants are concerned, obviously there’s no swimming involved, but… we certify them in CPR and first-aid, but there’s a 16-year-old age requirement. The lifeguard element is taken out and they’re not expected to be able to perform to those standards,” Jackson said.

One beach tenant has worked for John’s Beach Service for three years, but he said this year looks different.

“The first year it was a lot more intertwining between the lifeguard and the attendant,” said beach attendant Noah Dilley. “We worked together to make sales happen and over the last two years there’s been a separation so the lifeguard is able to focus a lot more on the water and the attendant is focused solely on sales.”

Dilley said he misses spending time with the lifeguards, but he’s working to become certified and move to their territory. However, he acknowledged it’s become harder to get to that position.

“I think it’s more difficult than it’s been in the past because the standard has been raised,” Dilley said. “You have to complete the swim in under 10 minutes rather than 12 minutes in the past.”

Despite the new changes, Jackson said the lifeguards who have been around for a while and are used to the old way of doing things are experiencing some “growing pains.”

“Initially, you know, you had the lifeguards that were involved in both so they were getting the tips from the rentals and what not and now it’s just a base pay since they’re getting paid hourly to watch the water,” Jackson said.

Lifeguards will now patrol the beaches from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

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Claire Purnell is a multimedia journalist at News13. Claire is from Louisville, Kentucky. Claire joined the News13 team in January 2023 after graduating from the University of Colorado-Boulder in December 2022. Follow Claire on Twitter and read more of her work here.

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