Play it safe this summer, says veteran lifeguard

Although retired, volunteer lifeguard Jasmin Allie continues to promote water safety at beaches and swimming pools. Picture: Fuad Esack

A s the city’s popular beaches
and other public spaces begin
to open up following the five-month lockdown period, a word
of caution from retired lifeguard
Jasmin Allie, from Alpine Park,
Mitchell’s Plain: don’t take chances. 

Allie, 54, originally from Port Elizabeth, knows all too well the dangers associated with swimming when there are no lifeguards on duty or where swimming is prohibited.

The veteran has always had a passion for water sports and joined Strandfontein Surf Lifesaving Club (SLC) when the family arrived in Cape Town in 1991.

She later joined Mnandi SLC where she spent most of her club career and as a lifeguard for the City of Cape Town.

The popular beach resort and open sea attracts thousands during summer and has seen a number of drownings over the years.

Although municipal pools are still closed, safety remains a concern and Allie has taken to social media to spread a message of awareness around water safety.

“Like most people growing up near the ocean, I’ve always loved water sports, ever since growing up in Gelvandale, in Port Elizabeth – from boogie boarding to springboard diving to swimming, you name it, I loved it,” she said.

“I became a qualified lifeguard while at Mnandi and worked for the city for 35 years,” she said.

“I’ve seen many people getting into difficulty out at sea, while they were trying to save someone. I saw people injure themselves by not listening to instructions from lifeguards, people under the influence of alcohol getting in trouble.”

She said she also worked as a pool guard and that a near-drowning incident at Long Street indoor swimming pool in the Cape Town CBD led to her being awarded a certificate of merit from a major fishing company in 2004.

“There were some people from an I&J fishing trawler who attended a water safety programme.

“A colleague and I noticed a gentleman getting into some difficulty after taking his lifejacket off, thinking he could stand in the water.”

Unfortunately, said Allie, he found himself in the deep end, and was soon gasping for air.

“My colleague and I jumped in the water. We struggled getting him to safety as he was a big guy.

“He dragged me under water but I was able to use my rescue and release skills to get him out,” she said.

She said this was typically the sort of situation many people who can’t swim find themselves in.

“More lives are put at risk when someone who also can’t swim dives in to try and save them. They get dragged down because they don’t know rescue and release techniques,” she said.

With summer fast approaching, Allie is encouraging beachgoers to put safety first when taking to water – whether out at sea, swimming pools or open dams.

Anyone interested in water safety programmes, can find Allie on Facebook or call 063 487 6273.