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What it's like to work at one of the country's best beaches

Credit: Kidsday staff artist / Lingfei Zhao, Syosset

I interviewed our gym teacher, Mr. Michael Purcell, to learn what it has been like to be a lifeguard for 30 years at one of the top 10 beaches in the United States. In case you didn’t know, Coopers Beach in Southampton has been repeatedly in the top 10 according to Dr. Beach, Stephen Leatherman, who ranks the beaches in the U.S. each year.

Mr. Purcell said that working at Coopers Beach is a lot of fun.  He said the weekends are crazy with many people to look after in the water. Mr. Purcell said he works with dedicated people who always take their job seriously. I asked Mr. Purcell exactly how many people he saves on a daily basis, and he said that it depends on the conditions of the water, but sometimes he saves five to six people a week.

I asked him about his experience with rip currents, and he shared one time when he was caught in one. He has also saved many people who got caught in rip currents, and he and the other lifeguards try to educate swimmers about the dangers of rip currents and what to do if you get caught in one.

Mr. Purcell thinks that one reason why Coopers Beach is one of the top 10 beaches is that it has a machine called a Surf Rake, which picks up trash and seaweed and always keeps the sand clean.  It also has a great food stand, very clean, modern bathrooms with showers, and clear water. 

Info: 268 Meadow Lane, Southampton, $40 a day parking fee, full facilities including concession, bathhouse, chair and umbrella rentals.

Bonnie Downs and Allison Whittle’s writers club, Tuckahoe School, Southampton

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