New York Works | Lifeguard Janet Fash

Monday, June 20, 2011

New York City beaches are open from Memorial Day through Labor Day under the watchful eye of some 1,300 lifeguards. With a starting rate of $13.57 an hour, it's a good gig for someone who's saving for college and for people who have summers off like Brooklyn native Janet Fash.

Fash, 51, has been patrolling the beaches in the Rockaways for 31 years. She works as a teacher during the school year, but spends her summer managing a team of lifeguards along a half mile stretch of sand and ocean in Queens.

"The first thing I do when I get to work is I look at the ocean," said Fash, the chief lifeguard at Beach 96th Street. "Is it high tide? Is it low tide? Do we have any rip currents? And the next thing is to assign the lifeguards to their chairs."

A petite 5-foot-6, Fash doesn't look like someone who could save a struggling swimmer. But her frame is deceptive.

"I always like to say the water equalizes us," said Fash, "I'm a great runner, and I can run fast like a lot of the guys and I can swim really fast. And when you get in the water to do a rescue you have your tool, a torpedo, and you're floating, you know, it's not the same as being on land."


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Comments [5]


I am a DFDer. Gives me and my family more confidence in the corp of lifeguards. Don't understand Beth from Woodside. The story was about lifeguards - not sharks.

Jun. 21 2011 10:09 PM

Great story! Very entertaining!
I think the reporter's comment was common sense. After all, even the lifeguard said that she orders everyone out of the water in the event of a shark sighting. I've heard of swimming with dolphins, but not so much swimming with the sharks. Steering clear, or getting a sturdy metal cage, is good advice. I don't think it promotes shark hunting. Not wanting to hug it out with a shark is not same as wanting to kill it.

Jun. 21 2011 08:04 PM
Beth from Woodside

Thanks for a great article. I enjoyed learning more about the woman profiled. But I did not appreciate the reporter's ignorant comment about sharks. Sharks rarely hurt humans, yet people are irrationally scared of them. So much so that they condone their viscous slaughter. Please do not contribute, however subtly, to this fear. The lifeguard did a great job handling the shark issue- indeed, most shark sightings are not sharks at all. Your reporter's ignorant comment undid her work in one thoughtless moment. Please in the future, keep your reporters' personal issues out of your articles.

Jun. 21 2011 07:35 AM

A D-F-D is someone who is visiting the beach for a day trip. Lifeguards day they are "down for the day."

Jun. 20 2011 05:08 PM

What was DFD ? (I missed the beginning of the story)

Jun. 20 2011 04:39 PM

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