Despite the depiction of Lifeguards on popular TV shows like "Baywatch", the reality is that these are important jobs and not overly glamorous. At the Jersey Shore, Lifeguards do more than just get a suntan each summer.

Dating back to the late 1800s, the job of "Lifeguards" was given to men in Shore Towns like Ocean City as a response to multiple drownings at the Jersey Shore. Over the coming decades, Lifeguards became an essential job for the New Jersey Coastal Communities.

But we were reminded over the weekend how important it is to swim ONLY where Lifeguards are stationed. On the morning of Saturday, June 22nd several people snuck onto the private property of the Heritage Minerals site to go swimming at Crystal Lake.

Edwin Toro-Mejia, a 33-year-old, suffered a muscle cram and died from an Accidental Drowning according to Manchester Police. Instead of going to a Public Lake or Beach where lifeguards were stationed, these people chose to go swimming in an area with no one around who could save them in case something went wrong.

If they had gone swimming in an area with lifeguards, this South Jersey Man's life could have been saved.

Why Lifeguards Are So Important To Keeping Swimmers Safe

Former Chief of the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol Thomas McCann joined The Locker Room with Billy Schweim on 973 ESPN South Jersey and explained why swimming in front of Lifeguards is so important.

"For the unsuspecting person...they have no idea what is going on (with rip currents)....The ocean looks very attractive, it 'seduces' you. - People have to swim in front of Lifeguards all the time...There are people who go in the water not knowing (the dangers of swimming). That is the lifeguard's job to pick up someone who is stumbling, and walking into (dangerous swim conditions)."

McCann, who has been the instructor for Rookie Lifeguard School for multiple South Jersey municipalities, details what is taught to lifeguards is more than just the physical assessment:

"When I teach Rookie (Lifeguard) School over the years, you got to be observant and you have to realize...there's two different beaches: low tide and high tide. When that tide is going out, (lifeguards) have to be aware of that, and the wind shifts, there is another set of problems."

So the next time you want to go swimming, be sure you are going somewhere that has Lifeguards stationed on site. Whether at the beach, a lake, or a waterpark, these people are trained to help people and save anyone who finds themselves in trouble in the water.

We do not want any more tragedies this summer in South Jersey like Edwin Toro-Mejia. His life could have been saved if he had been swimming in an area with lifeguards on duty.  No matter how good of a swimmer you may be, there is no reason to put your life at unnecessary risk when it comes to the water.

Aside from going to the beach in the summer, there are some other great activities to enjoy in South Jersey.  Here are some of our favorites:

25 Best Things to Do in South Jersey — From beaches to boardwalk and everything in between

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