Bill Bower is Beach Patrol’s newest addition.

COURTESY

We are having another tryout and lifeguard academy that will start at 7 a.m. June 15. Information is on our website. Spread the word!

Last weekend we had a big turnout for our lifeguard tryouts. Typically, less than half of the people that show up make it through the process and are admitted into our two-week lifeguard academy. The 21 people that made it in may get whittled down more, but it looks like we have a really good crew. Unfortunately, we need more than this group to be fully staffed this summer, so we’ll try for more.

Our goal in the Beach Patrol Academy is to take a diverse bunch of people and make them into a seamless team. It’s always interesting to watch how people very different from each other become fast, lifelong friends in the process of this training and working together for a shared goal. We have one candidate that will make an unusual, but excellent addition to Galveston’s lifeguard service.

I’d like to introduce you to Bill Bower. As you’d imagine, the average age in a typical academy is in the high teens or lower 20s. Bill joined us a few weeks ago by volunteering to go through our Wave Watcher training program, which trains citizens how to spot trouble on the beach, be a tourist ambassador, and helps us expand our footprint. After getting to know a bit about our program as a volunteer, he decided to tryout. And tryout he did!

Bill holds the fastest qualifying time of all our candidates. At 62, this is impressive, but not surprising. He has an extensive background in aquatics. His father was a swim coach. Bill is a three-time All American Swimming Champion. His senior year in high school he even broke the national record and went on a swimming scholarship to Tulane University. He worked for years as a swim coach and math teacher and has coached over 50 All-Americans. But even more interesting is that while he coached and taught, he also traveled all over the world as a consultant for an international engineering firm.

At 60, this Renaissance Man started swimming competitively again and swims about 2 miles a day. He moved from Michigan to Galveston “for love” and is engaged to someone from Houston.

He said he was worried that he wouldn’t be accepted by the group. The first day a young woman sat next to him and said something about him being “brave.” But then they saw him swim.

Bill says, “It’s been a real challenge keeping up with the gifted athletes participating in lifeguard academy. They are an outstanding group and I’m proud to be part of the group. They have welcomed me despite my age …”

From my point of view, we are very lucky to have Bill join the team. We’re excited to incorporate his experience and obvious skill in the water into our ranks. But even more, he is an impressive person who will represent Galveston well.

Peter Davis

is chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. The views in this column are Davis’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Beach Patrol, Galveston Park Board of Trustees or any other entity.

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