Adkins, Burris and Ertl Make Cut in Los Angeles County Lifeguard Test

Ertl, Burris and Adkins

Oct. 15, 2012

MALIBU, Calif. – Ever wonder what it takes to stand watch on a lifeguard stand, keeping a vigilant eye on swimmers and surfers as they take advantage of the beautiful beaches of Southern California? For starters, you must complete a 1,000 meter ocean swim, as Pepperdine swim team members Shannon Adkins, Sarah Burris and Stephanie Ertl did this past Saturday morning.

Not only did they finish the swim, but all three made the time cut and reached the interview stage. Should they make it past that stage, the trio will take part in a series of tests and undergo an intense two-month training course.

Adkins (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS), who has become increasingly involved in ocean swims, was the first female to finish and 18th overall out of the 350 participants.

Burris (Virginia Beach, Va./Cox HS) followed in 78th place overall, and Ertl (Carmel, Ind./Carmel HS) placed 112th.

“These were some of the best swimmers in the state of California, and several from other places as well,” said head coach Nick Rodionoff. “It’s an incredible accomplishment that all three girls made the cut.

“We have had several past swimmers become L.A. county guards, but this is the first time we have had three, not to mention one very recent graduate, make it at one time. It’s very exciting.”

Pepperdine alumna Loriann Mark (2006-08) also reached the next stage and placed 50th.

Reaching the next step and finishing the 1,000 meter ocean swim did not come without its challenges.

For starters, Adkins, Burris and Ertl had a meet the day before the test.

“After we got back from our meet, we all went straight home and went to bed early,” said Burris.

Getting a good night’s rest meant missing Blue and Orange Madness, which was held the same evening inside Firestone Fieldhouse on campus.

“I think we were all nervous about the amount of people,” comment Ertl. “This was my first ocean race so I really didn’t know what to expect.”

“Everyone starts all at once, so it’s is pretty crowded during the first few hundred meters,” added Adkins. “Getting out to the first buoy heading out is tough and pretty scary.”

“You can’t wear goggles, and I lost my contact lenses pretty much right away,” said Burris. “I couldn’t see the buoys most of the time, and it’s common for swimmers to get lost along the way and not finish. I was so thrilled when I got back to the shore and got my popsicle stick (to indicate order of finish). All I could do was stare at it, I was so happy.”

Ertl continued, “You see all these people getting ready to race, and they all look like they are incredibly strong swimmers. You can’t help but be intimidated.

“I was very relieved when I finished, and so happy to have made it through to the next round.”

So will we be seeing any Waves on lifeguard duty in the future?

“At first I wanted to take the test just to see how I could compete with other swimmers. But now, as graduation nears, it’s something I plan to pursue while looking for a job,” said Adkins, who is majoring in broadcast news and production.

Burris, who also graduates next spring with a degree in psychology, agreed: “This is a phenomenal job opportunity,” and added with a laugh, “I don’t want to end up back at my parents’ house!” 



Pepperdine Waves
Official online store