N.J. lifeguard keeps eye out for swimmers in trouble for 50 years

Aug. 3, 2013 at 9:47 PM   |   0 comments

LONG BRANCH, N.J., Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Mike "Spike" Fowler, a self-described lifelong Jersey Shore "beach rat," is spending his 50th summer keeping his eyes open for swimmers in trouble.

No one's drowned on a beach in the half century he's been on patrol, he told The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger.

Fowler has been a life guard since 1963 and still spends at least six days a week scanning the water, saying he was "a beach rat right from the start, so I always loved this."

"When I started college, my thought was 'How can I model a career that will allow me to lifeguard?'" he said.

The answer is he became a marketing professor at Brookdale Community College while also working as lifeguard supervisor for Monmouth County parks.

"My summers are stressful and my winters are restful," he told the newspaper. "Nobody drowns at college. There's never been a drowning at a beach I managed and I'm pretty proud of that.

"I'm a dual career person. This job is a hybrid of my skills as an educator, as a business management person and my experience in lifesaving field. My approach is risk-liability management. In no other business is a 99.9 percent success rate unacceptable."

There is an "occupational hazard," he admits. He's had at least 20 minor procedures to remove basil cancer cells from his "Irish disposition" skin.

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