THE flags go up today (Saturday) on Wollongong’s 17 patrolled beaches, marking the start of the 2015-16 swimming season.
The season will run until April 25 2016, with the peak time for beach goers falling between December 19 and January 25. Wollongong City Council’s eight public pools, including Helensburgh, Thirroul and Corrimal, also have reopened.
Last year, more than 1.2million people visited the city’s beaches with Council’s professional lifeguards carrying out 839 rescues. Council’s lifeguards work Monday to Saturday, with volunteers from Surf Life Saving NSW watching over swimmers on weekends and public holidays.
“Our beaches are loved by locals and visitors alike and we’re expecting another busy summer,’’ Wollongong City Council’s Beach Services Coordinator Jason Foye said.
“Lifeguards have been patrolling our beaches since 1912 when the first paid lifeguard started on Austinmer beach. Now, we’ve got more than 70 fulltime and casual professional ocean lifeguards working each season.’’
During the winter months, Council’s lifeguards have continued to patrol North Wollongong beach and carry out education campaigns at local primary schools, with university students and various community organisations.
“We can’t emphasis enough the importance of understanding what you need to do to swim safe at our beaches,’’ Mr Foye said.
“Swim between the flags, only swim on patrolled beaches and if you do get into trouble, stay calm and raise your arm to attract a lifeguard’s attention. These messages remain the same year in and year out and help protect all our beach goers.’’
Council’s website has a range of beach safety tips, a safe swimming video and details of the patrol hours at our beaches.
“Council’s professional lifeguards and the dedicated volunteer Surf Life Savers work hard to look after our community,’’ Mr Foye said.
“We want to make sure we have another summer of safe swimming at our beaches.’’
For more information you can contact Customer Service on 02 4227 7111.