Five minutes with: Lifeguard Tirion Dowsett

This year, RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling over 240 beaches around the UK and Channel Islands to make sure you, your friends and family have a memorable season for all the right reasons. 

We catch up with Ceredigion Lifeguard Supervisor Tirion Dowsett to find out why she became a lifeguard – and how we can all enjoy the coast safely this summer.  

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Tirion Dowsett

Photo: WalesOnline/Gayle Marsh

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Tirion Dowsett

How long have you been an RNLI lifeguard for? 

This will be my ninth season as an RNLI lifeguard. I was a senior lifeguard until June last year, and now I’m a seasonal lifeguard supervisor. 

What inspired you to get into lifeguarding? 

I’ve loved the sea ever since I was little – I used to watch the lifeguards working on the beach and it looked like such an amazing job where you get to speak to people, work outside and be beside the water. 

What do you do for a job out of the lifeguard season? 

I’m a teaching assistant in a primary school – it’s the best! I love it. I’m thinking about becoming a teacher in the future, and it was my RNLI lifeguarding job that gave me the skills to get into the school in the first place. 

I’ve done a couple of the RNLI’s education programmes like Meet the Lifeguards, where we go into schools and teach kids how to stay safe at the beach and in the open sea – it’s really useful, particularly for children who don’t live by the coast but visit for summer holidays. 

Lifeguards watching over surfers from the beach

Photo: Dean Wright

What type of beaches do you enjoy working on most?

I’ve already worked a bit at Llangrannog Beach over the Easter holidays. I’ll most likely be supervising this summer, so I might be working a bit on Poppit Sands Beach in Pembrokeshire.

How are you feeling about being on the beach this year after a year like 2020?

I feel slightly apprehensive because lots of people will be visiting, and it will be a bit strange after such a long time of barely seeing anyone. 

But we got really good results last year, in terms of rescues and preventing incidents, and it’s really nice to see the beach full of life again. It keeps us busy, but it really is lovely to see people enjoying some normality.

What does a typical lifeguarding week look like for you? 

It’s always different! It depends at what point of the season it is but, in pre-COVID times, it would usually be lots of prevention work. 

We speak to lots of people on the beach to let them know the dangers and give them our safety advice – like where they should be swimming that day, because of the tide and the weather. 

Other incidents we deal with are treating people with jellyfish stings and helping wildlife that has been washed up on the beach. Last summer, we worked a lot with the lifeboat crew to make sure the beach was as safe as possible – especially in the pandemic. 

And of course, we do so much training. We do fitness training on the sand, swim training in the sea.  

Tirion taking part in a casualty care training exercise last summer with New Quay lifeboat crew

Photo: RNLI

Tirion taking part in a casualty care training exercise last summer with New Quay lifeboat crew

Do you have any rescues that particularly stick in your mind?

One memorable rescue for me happened last summer on the first day of our season. A kayaker went out on the waves and he wasn’t aware that the conditions were changing – it got really windy, the surf picked up and he found himself in trouble. 

I had to help him back to shore in pretty turbulent conditions – I’ll always remember that. It felt really good to be able to help before the situation got any worse.  

What safety tips could you give us this summer when beaches will be busier than ever with staycations? 

Always swim at a lifeguarded beach and follow guidance on that beach – the team of lifeguards know what they’re doing, and they know the area really well. They put the red and yellow flags out to mark the safest place to swim, so always swim between them. Most of all, always feel free to ask us questions. 

You deserve to enjoy a fantastic summer – whether you’re looking forward to venturing out on a staycation or staying closer to home, find your nearest lifeguarded beach to keep you, and the ones you love, safe this season. 

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