New book

Anyone can learn to lifeguard, even dummies


There was “Investing for Dummies," “iPhones for Dummies,” and even “Anti-Inflammatory Diets for Dummies.”

Now, the latest in the series -— and the title of this one may scare some people — is “Lifeguarding for Dummies.”

You certainly wouldn’t want your lifeguard to be a dummy, and neither do the co-authors,  Cary Epstein and Cameron DeGuzman, who penned the recently-published book, which is really all about how to become a lifeguard and safety in the water.

“The book really has two audiences,” said Epstein. “The first audience, the primary audience, is it’s for anybody that may be interested in a career in lifeguarding. The second audience is people that are already lifeguarding. I think a current lifeguard can pick up this book and really relate to everything we’re talking about.”

Epstein, 43, has been lifeguarding at Jones Beach for the past 26 years. Growing up in Hewlett, he remembers being on the swim team and, in 10th grade, his coach, who was a Jones Beach lifeguard, used to give out lifeguarding T-shirts. He knew he wanted to be one in the future.

When he was 16, he took his first lifeguard test and worked at the Sands in Atlantic Beach. Then, once he turned 17, he spent one summer guarding the oceans there before getting the gig at Jones Beach. He still runs training courses at the Sands alongside his main summer lifeguarding routine. He moved to Long Beach four years ago.

“Water safety and lifeguarding has been a passion of mine,” he said. “I’m a hardcore beach lover, ocean lover, swimmer and, most importantly, water safety advocate.”

Even with all his experience and training classes, he never thought of writing a book to teach others the skills. That was until one of his fellow Jones Beach lifeguards, Cameron DeGuzman, got an interesting message on LinkedIn.

“I’m a big LinkedIn guy,” DeGuzman, a lifeguard of nine years, said. “When someone reaches out to you, it’s a little suspicious if they don’t have like a profile picture that’s immediately viewable to you. But after speaking with Cary, we replied to Jennifer Yee, who’s the editor and has been an awesome piece to this puzzle, and it went off from there.”

For prospective Long Beach guards, the training regime is rigorous. Lifeguard hopefuls, and returning guards, must swim 200 yards in a recreation center pool in a maximum time of about 2 minutes, 45 seconds, and finish a one-mile run on the boardwalk in no more than nine minutes.

Whether it be new, or experienced, water watchers, lifeguarding can now be more easily picked up and learned by anyone, thanks to Lifeguarding for Dummies.

The chapters cover everything there is to know. There are chapters about the history, the training, how to stay in shape, rules to follow, and so much more. The book has about 300 pages of water safety knowledge to learn.

The writing process started off slow for the two of them.

They began talking with the Dummies brand in February of last year. Deadlines began coming up in July and August and they needed to start moving a little faster. “It turned from meeting once a week, to two times a week and then eventually meeting four or five times a week,” DeGuzman recalled.

“We said from the beginning we knew writing a book wasn’t going to be easy, but we’re so knowledgeable on the topic and we love it,” Epstein said. “There were a lot of really late nights on Zoom with Cameron and I co-writing this book together. We really didn’t do a single piece of the book without each other.”

DeGuzman, 24, doesn’t have quite as many years on the beach as Epstein, being a lifeguard for the past nine years, but was able to bring his perspective to the table. They’re both EMTs, former swimmers and current ocean lifeguards that just wanted to teach and show everyone all the different aspects of protecting swimmers.

“I think the book should not be treated like a manual,” DeGuzman said. “You learn a lot more being a lifeguard. You’re getting a lot of new skills and those skills and complex things are more than just pulling someone that’s drowning out of the water.”