Clearwater Beach is known as a family-friendly beach. It is beautiful. The soft white sand and the typically calm waves of the Gulf of Mexico make a wonderful place for families of all ages to relax and play. As you walk the beach, you’ll see the Clearwater Beach lifeguard towers frequently placed both on the south and north sides of Pier 60.
During my last trip to Clearwater Beach, I was walking past the lifeguard towers on the beach and wondered “Do the lifeguards here love it as much as I do?”
So I decided to ask…
Interview with a Clearwater Beach Lifeguard
I spoke with Rachel Lersch, a Clearwater Beach Lifeguard. Rachel grew up as a Clearwater Beach local but recently moved to Fort Myers to work full time as an Assistant Project Manager for a civil engineering company.
Rachel: “I come back to Clearwater almost every weekend to work. Usually, when I share with people that I drive two hours to work my weekend job, everyone is shocked. I was born and raised in Clearwater so not only do I come home (to my first home) to work but I also use my off time to see my friends and family that live here… It’s a win, win for me! I truly love being a Clearwater Beach lifeguard and the distance does not bother me.
What I love about being a Clearwater Beach lifeguard is not just my job as a lifeguard but my co-workers that have turned into family. My boss is one of a kind. He is the type of boss that loves what he does and it shows through his hard-working employees. He has taught me so much! I know I can always count on my Clearwater Beach family to have my back no matter what and that type of work environment cannot be beaten! It is the number one reason I am not leaving Clearwater to lifeguard the beaches in Fort Myers. I know nothing can compare!”
Brad: Clearwater Beach is known as a wonderful, family-friendly beach. Do you have any advice for parents bringing their kids to the beach? What they should bring or not bring, any safety tips?
Rachel: “Clearwater Beach is a great family beach with over a mile of a lifeguarded swim area. There are rental cabanas, umbrellas, and chairs set up for public use. There are activities for children near Pier 60, inflatable slides, concessions, playground area, ice cream shop, and outdoor showers. You are allowed to bring your own cooler, umbrellas, and tents, as long as the tents are not too close to the water and blocking the lifeguards’ view of the shoreline.
What to bring: towels, sand & water toys, drinks & snacks, chairs… don’t worry if you forget anything there are shops nearby that offer all the things I listed. What not to bring: alcohol, glass, dogs, and drones.
When getting in the water be sure to shuffle your feet to avoid stepping on stingrays. The stingray season is from April – October but they are occasionally present other months of the year. If you’re not sure of something, ask a lifeguard! We love answering questions and helping whenever we can. Safety and preventive safety is what we lifeguards live by. When at the beach, the best thing to do is to check what color flag is flying, be aware of what is going on around you and always listen to the lifeguards’ whistle and directions. We want everyone to have a fun, safe day at beautiful Clearwater Beach.”
Brad: What do the different flag colors mean?
Rachel: “Green: Low Hazard. Most of the time, on Clearwater Beach, we fly the Green flag. Conditions, for the most part, are good at Clearwater. Calm waters, sunny days!
Yellow: Medium Hazard. We will fly the yellow flag when there are possibilities of rip currents and rougher than normal waves. As a caution to the beachgoers to be prepared.
Red: High Hazard. We will fly the red flag when there are sever conditions. Rip currents, high surf, strong and rough waves are present.
Double Red: Water is closed. When the double red is flying we will whistle everyone to get out and stay out of the water!
Purple: Dangerous Marine Life. We will fly the purple flags if we know there are stingrays, jellyfish or other possible dangers present.
Brad: Is there a part of Clearwater Beach that is better for families?”
Rachel: “South of Pier 60 tends to be busier than North Beach but overall the whole beach is great for families or a beach day by yourself. During the month of March, Pier 60 and South Beach is usually full of spring breakers and it may not be an ideal beach day for the family during that time. My favorite part of Clearwater beach is North Beach, where it is usually much quieter. I have to say my all-time favorite spot is sitting in any of the 7 Lifeguard towers on Clearwater Beach!”
Brad: What are your favorite things about Clearwater Beach?
Rachel: “My favorite things about Clearwater beach is how beautiful it is and there are lots of things to do. Across from Pier 60 is the Marina where they have boat rides and Jet Ski rentals. There is also Jet Ski rentals and parasailing on the beach North of Pier 60 between towers 5 & 7. There are many places to eat and relax. They also have a Marine Aquarium not far from the beach. During the year they have various events held at the beach like the Sugar Sand Festival, Clearwater Super boat races, Taste Fest & Uncorked Food & Wine Festival to name a few. In my opinion, there is something for everyone on Clearwater Beach!”
Brad: What about a favorite place to eat?
Rachel: “If you ask any local on the beach this question… I’m pretty sure the first thing they will say is Frenchy’s. My number one answer to this question is Frenchy’s! Their food is awesome! I have been going to Frenchy’s since I was a kid. I absolutely love their “she crab soup”! If you are looking for a quieter place Pearly’s Beach Eats is my new favorite. I love the atmosphere, along with their yummy tacos and delicious ice cream that comes in a little coconut! It’s addicting.
If you’re looking for views with your food, Jimmy’s Crow’s Nest or Marina Cantina are my two favorites!
Breakfast… cannot forget breakfast! In my opinion… ClearSky Café has THE BEST breakfast in town. Seriously! They have something for everyone. Their selection is great! My personal favorite is any of their French Toasts… YUM!”
Brad: Thank you, Rachel, for taking the time to share your experience with us as a Clearwater Beach local and lifeguard!
Rachel: “Thank you for visiting the one and only Clearwater beach, the place we love to call our home. All of us that work the beach do it because we absolutely love being here. We care about public safety and keeping our waters safe. Working for Clearwater Beach has opened so many doors for me and I am blessed to work for a great city.”
In addition to working as a full-time assistant project manager in Fort Myers and part-time Clearwater Beach lifeguard, Rachel also volunteers with the Tampa Bay Frogman Swim. “The Frogman Swim is a 5K open water swim in the Tampa Bay! We strive to bring awareness to the Navy Special Warfare community and support the Navy SEAL Foundation. People from all over raise money for this cause and swim 5K in freezing (Florida) January water for the Navy SEAL Foundation. Their mission is to provide immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and their families. 100% of our proceeds go directly to the Foundation to help the families of our fallen heroes.
I love being a part of this organization, it is humbling to know I am doing a small part to help our service men and woman and their families when they sacrifice everything for our country’s freedom. This is special to my heart because my significant other is a proud member of the US Army and deployed to Iraq in 2016. Our support means more than words can explain to these families so if you feel in your heart you would like to contribute please reach out through the Tampa Bay Frogman Swim website or Facebook page!”