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Hardy awards



A person and or organization that promotes and participates in the maintenance of the beach community, encourages the growth of the beach community and supports the forward progression of the San Diego Lifeguard Service as a profession.


Connie Rains, Gilbert Rodriguez, Julie Klein


Gilbert Rodriguez and team

Gilbert and his team have worked tirelessly through the summer months sanding, priming and painting the interior and exterior of Lifeguard Headquarters. Gilbert is an extremely hard working employee and his dedication to his craft is demonstrated everyday with his attention to detail and patience.


The selfless act of a public beach goer or bystander who made the conscious decision to help a stranger in need. This person, with or without rescue or medical training, recognized that an action was needed to save the life, limb, or property of another human being.



Jack Barone, Neil Garrett (Scripps Pier),  

Jake Watson/ Zachary Haugen (Pappy's Point)


Jack Barone & Neil Garrett

Jack Barone and Neil Garrett went above and beyond to save the life of a young child who had drown north of Scripps pier on a choppy and windy afternoon.  Neil swam out on the north side of Scripps pier after he spotted something floating in the water.  Jack spotted Neil swimming and paddled over on his board.  They brought the young girl to the beach, activated the 911 system and began cpr. Their fast action and quick cpr initiation saved her life.



This award represent the successes of San Diego Project Heartbeat and the SD Lifeguard service with fast AED deployment and CPR initiation.


C. Burrows, M. Gilmore, D. Reichard, B. Richard(Scripps Pier)

M. Baumann, Z. Clark, S. Wojtczak (Ocean Beach)

Scripps Pier:

On May 14th, beach goer Neil Garrett and surfer Jack Barone pulled a young girl from the water north of Scripps Pier who had wandered into the water unnoticed by her parents. They quickly initiated the 911 system and began CPR when realized the severity of the situation. LGI D. Reichard and LGI B. Richard took over CPR when on scene. When LGII M. Gilmore and LGII C. Burrows arrived on scene from LJ Shores, Burrows began rescue breathing with the BVM, where the pt began coughing up water and breathing on her own. The patient was transferred to paramedics once extricated off the beach and transported to children's hospital. 


LGI Z. Clark, LGI S. Wojtczak, LGII M. Baumann and the OB team

Ocean Beach:

LGI Z. Clark was in tower 3 when he responded to a report of seizures at waters edge just south of his tower. Unit 12 responded as Clark stated CPR was being initiated. 1sam Fransway responded with LGII K. Gantz.  LGII Baumann and LGI Wojtczak set up the AED and BVM for o2 while compressions were going.  LGI S. Dunn and LGII C. Carter arrived in the utility. Five shocks were given prior to SDFD arriving, where one more was given.  A pulse was recovered and rescue breaths were continued as the patient was transported. The patient has since been released from the hospital. 



The TJ Wallace award is given to the lifeguard that performs with a positive attitude, is kind and compassionate, exhibits positive energy, has a zest for life and shares a sense of "espirit de corps" to lifeguarding.


Mitch Schwenkmeyer, Jake Le Beau, Kyle Kaine


Mitch Schwenkmeyer

For always exhibiting a stellar attitude, working hard, and doing so with humility. 


The lifeguard receiving this award exemplifies the true competitive spirit, superior ability and skill with a strong urge to accomplish great deeds while motivating people around them.


Chris Rinder, Greg Nelsen, Jake Le Beau


Greg Nelsen

For pushing himself in athletic feats, showing strong dedication to core lifeguarding skills and motivating those around him to do the same.


The permanent lifeguard rescue of the year is awarded to the lifeguard(s) who shows great courage, bravery, and fearlessness, while utilizing skills developed through training and experience, to save life and property from imminent danger.  Such action is shown in dangerous conditions or circumstance, many times at great risk to lifeguards' own health and safety.  Permanent lifeguards are highly trained and experienced.  Along with water rescues, rescues at this level are performed utilizing hard hull rescue boats, marine fire fighting vessels, swift water rescue, technical rope rescue, SCUBA, or a combination of.


Border Cage river call: Rick Stell and team

No surf: Rodger Eales and team

OB Jetty: Connor Robbins, Dana Vanos and team


Connor Robbins, Dana Vanos and the OB crew

OB Jetty: 

LGII C. Robbins and LGII D. Vanos responded to the big jetty in Ocean Beach at the end of January 2020 for a person and their dog being swept out in the big jetty rip.  LGIII I. Rotgan spotted the victims early from the observation tower, requested resources from the boating safety unit and Mission Beach quickly, and communicated in a phenomenal manner with responding units. Vanos entered the 60 degree water and 8 ft surf with a rescue board and buoy, unable to spot the victims from shore. Rotgans vectored her in with the over head PA located on dog beach. Robbins entered the water behind Vanos with a can and fins and was later picked up by LGIII D. Fiero on Jet 2 from Mission Beach.  Vanos spotted the victim and canine, who had separated, parallel with jetty rock. She paddled to the human victim, while keeping eyes on the dog. The rescue boat with LGIII J. Jordan and LGII P. Nowakowski arrived on scene with Jet 2.  Vanos yelled that the dog was back near the river as a large set came through. Jet 2 with Fiero and Robbins spotted the snout of the canine as he was submerging. Robbins jumped in, grabbed the dog and loaded him on to the rescue sled where they then drove quickly to shore to meet with 1sam Fransway.  Vanos brought human victim, Steve, into the beach.  Sawyer, the 11 year old golden retriever was placed on o2 with the canine o2 attachment and was taken to the vet.  Both victims made a full recovery and came to visit the crew two weeks later.  

Border Cage: 

The San Diego Lifeguard River Rescue team was deployed in March 2020 to various locations throughout San Diego during a heavy rain storm.  Sgt. R. Stell and crew responded to the US/ Mex border for a report of people stuck in a sewage drain which sifts water through a large cage.  Sgt. Stell was lowered into the cage by other River Rescue team members to extricate the trapped victims. 


No Surf

A 911 call of two swimmers in distress in the rip at No Surf. LGII Rodger Eales responded code 3 on jet 1 from Ocean Beach.  The two distressed swimmers were being held above water by two bystanders. LGIII D. Fiero responded on jet 2 from Mission Beach.  Eales loaded the victims on to the rescue sled and beached the ski along with jet 2. Eales and Fiero began pulling the victims up to dry sand and were met by 1sam Clark and LGII Pomerantz with medical gear. Eales ran up the trail to grab cliff gear from unit 1 as this was turning into a cliff extrication due to exhaustion. Sgt. R. Eichelberger and LGII T. Rice are the cliff rescuers with Sgt. Stell operating the crane from R44.    



The seasonal lifeguard rescue of the year is awarded to the lifeguard(s) who shows great courage, bravery, and fearlessness, while utilizing skills developed through training and experience, to save life and property from imminent danger.  Such action is shown in dangerous conditions or circumstances, many times at great risk to lifeguards' own health and safety.


The White Lady - Cortez Ritumalta, Jimmy Le Beau, Nate Swank

Pappy's Point - Noah Herrera, Oscar Aaron


LGI N. Herrera, LGII O. Aaron and crew

The White Lady

The LG dispatcher reported a 911 caller stating a person was altered near the edge of the bluff above the white lady cave in La Jolla. LGI C. Ritumalta was patrolling with 3sam, and  LGI Jimmy Lebeau was on jet 3 with LGII C. Burrows.  31 sam stated the person had jumped from the cliff, and initiated a code 3 response of resources.  LGI N. Swank swam from the cove, LGI C. Ritumalta jumped off the clam when arriving on scene, and jet 3 responded.  Le Beau grabs the victim, unconscious but breathing, Cortez and Swank arrive, Nowakowski and Manley arrive on rescue west.  The patient is put on a miller board and a full in water c spine is initiated. The patient is loaded onto a rescue board after bing attached to the miller board and put on the sled of jet 3.  Jet 3 transports the patient to the boat launch. Rescue west picks up Swank and Cortez to transport to land to help offload the patient.  Medics then transported the patient to the hospital. 


Pappy's Point

Lifeguard from the Sunset Cliffs patrol vehicle were closing the satellite Santa Cruze station when a 911 call of swimmers in distress at Pappy's came over the air. LGI N. Herrera, LGI O. Aaron and LGII M. Baumann responded to Pappy's Point in unit 100. Two bystanders had jumped in the water to assist the two teens, who were brought onto the lower ledge below and to the east of the arch.  Herrera and Aaron jumped off the arch with rescue equipment.  Herrera wrapped one of the victims with the Peterson buoy as she fell unconscious. She was loaded onto the rescue sled of jet 1 operated by P. Rudell and transported the the responded surfboat assisted by LGII M. Baumann.  One of the teens was brought up the bluff via cliff extrication with rescue 44 and the other was transported code 3 to the reception dock at LG HQ and transported to the hospital by paramedics. 


The LGII/III of the year exceeds job standards, demonstrates strong leadership, and shows respect to the public and their coworkers.  Nominees promote a positive culture, are proactive in problem solving, and are dedicated to training others in their knowledge and experiences.  They are committed and involved in our future as lifeguards by seeking projects or assignment to improve the Lifeguard Service.


Rodger Eales, Dana Vanos, Kyle Gantz, Doug Smith, Chris Burrows


Chris Burrows

Rodger Eales 

Rodger Eales is a Lifeguard II at Ocean Beach and is an inspiration to Lifeguard Is, fellow Lifeguard IIs, and his supervisors. A husband and father of 2, Rodger comes into work daily with a positive force of energy that is contagious. Rodger has a wonderful balance of focus and intensity accompanied with empathy and sincerity. He is a leader at Ocean Beach, ensuring operational readiness at all times, and always providing direct communication to his teammates.

When responding to emergencies, Rodger maintains sharp situational awareness and technical proficiency. As an exceptional waterman, Rodger competes in weekly physical challenges and is known as an expert big wave surfer. Rodgers trains others on all emergency apparatus with thoroughness and purpose. Rodger is someone who you want on your team when the “big call” comes in due to his courage, abilities, and professionalism. Rodger does all of these things with modesty and an ongoing pursuit of learning and making others better.

Doug Smith

I am pleased and honored to present to you nominated Lifeguard II of the year Douglas Smith. For a person who has graced the covers of international advertising campaigns as a fashion model, while competing numerous times as a professional prone paddler crossing the treacherous and unforgiving conditions of the Catalina Channel. You will not find a humbler individual. Don’t let the ripped tank top “Metallica world tour 1987” fool you. I have had the opportunity to know Doug from the very beginning of his 18 year career as a professional Lifeguard, he has remained the same person this whole time. You can always trust Doug to have your back in and out of the water. This past year Doug was promoted to Lifeguard III for his willingness to teach others and his dedication to becoming a better Lifeguard. 

 Doug has mentored and provided guidance to all those he has worked with. Doug’s enthusiasm, positive energy and dedication to the job has lead him to being involved with special assignments that provide those that work with him a positive and welcoming work environment. Doug has just completed his 2nd year as the JG coordinator where he has been a leader and mentor to the Seasonal Lifeguards and Junior Guards alike. Along with this assignment, he has been involved with the Lifeguard Advanced Academy the past 2 times as an Assistant Academy Coordinator. He not only gives back during the academies but stays after hours and helps on his days off to work with the students to make sure that they get help they need to be successful Lifeguard……No questions asked!

Doug is someone who will give you his Van Halen shirt of his back, but maybe ask for it back later because it’s signed and is a collector’s item. Please help me in congratulating Douglas Smith for his nomination for Lifeguard II of the year.

Kyle Gantz

Kyle Gantz is currently stationed at Mission Beach.  He is in his 9th year of Lifeguarding.  Fourth year as a LGII.  As one of the core LGII’s at Mission Beach, he single-handedly orders ALL the medical supplies for the Division.  All those fantastic cloth masks, yup, without him you’d have paper towel masks.  Additionally, he helped to set up a new ordering system through AMR. 

Kyle is also prolific trainer.  Specializing in the Medical arena, he has provided countless hours of EMT & CPR training for peers, subordinates and supervisors as a DMO.  That tourniquet you used to help save someone’s life, your CPR skills, the new enhanced power points that don’t put you to sleep in EMT refresher are all because of his skills and abilities.  He is also a lead trainer at MB:  Conducting all facets of training:  ATV, UTV, RWC, training board.  All enhanced by his years of experience.  By the time this is published he should be an RWC FTO.  

His athletic skills are superb, having been on the relay team as a Landline Puller for seven years.  Kyle has also branched into leadership and has been the Central Area Relay Team Captain for the past two years.  And is looking for an asterisk Covid year victory.  

Kyle has also been on a few notable rescues this year:  he recently saved golden retriever at PB point from near death, a little girl who was paralyzed with fear on the ledge at Pappy’s Point.  

Kyle is a working machine, always moving and getting things done.  It is a bonus to have him as part of the Mission Beach Team

Chris Burrows

Chris Burrows, a native San Diegan, started his Lifeguard career as a Junior Lifeguard. He was hired as a Lifeguard I in 2010 and promoted to Lifeguard II in 2017. Chris is certified to the level of Rescue Scuba Diver and is a RWC FTO. This past year, Chris held a schedule at La Jolla Shores during the winter and spring rotation. Chris is always positive, has excellent customer service, and is well liked, and respected, by his peers and subordinates. Chris is selfless with his time and is seen spending most of his day devoted to training others. Chris is respectful, humble, and always eager for feedback to improve his performance and skill set. Chris is a natural leader that takes initiative with anything that needs to be addressed. He displayed outstanding performance and exceptional skills on several different significant calls. This last spring, Chris was one of the first Lifeguards on scene on a drowning of a 10-year old girl. His levelheaded demeanor, and swift action, saved the girls life as he provided rescue breaths via a BVM until the girl started breathing on her own. His core Lifeguard skills and athleticism are outstanding. One would dread going against him on any challenge that showcases the core Lifeguard disciplines of running, swimming, or paddling. 

Dana Vanos

Dana Vanos was a Lifeguard II at Ocean Beach during the 2019/2020 winter, and member of the BSU Supplemental Specialty Team in the summer. Dana’s passion for lifeguarding is witnessed every day, maintaining a devotion to and appreciation of core lifeguarding skills and lifeguard culture. Dana shows up to work each day with a focus and determination we all would want in someone responsible for our safety. She is an exceptional waterwoman and remains one of the Division’s top athletes, even after battling back from a serious injury just one-year prior. 

Dana has accomplished a large amount in one year:

While at Ocean Beach, Dana demonstrated mastery of technical skills due to training with focus and attention to detail. During emergencies, Dana’s dedication and hard work pay-off with her ability to promptly perform difficult tasks without error. While on scene with a deceased male on the rip rap by Ross Rock, Dana maintained poise and demonstrated quality decision-making during an extremely difficult and unfortunate situation. She was also the lead rescuer, with others, on a heroic rescue of a man and his dog in 6-8 ft surf at Dog Beach. Dana also served as an instructor in the Advanced Lifeguard Academy by providing an extensive and challenging southern area familiarization training module.

At the Boating Safety Unit, Dana is always rescue ready and performs extremely well in all aspects of emergency response. She is a cool, calm, and collected dispatcher. Dana is always seeking ways to improve work efficiency around the BSU, updating multiple documents from reports to inspection sheets. 

In addition to all of this, Dana is the President of the SDLA. She volunteers her time and energy into the community and performs a variety of reach-outs to benefit our lifeguards through her role as President of the SDLA.

Dana is as dependable as they come, and a star performer in all aspects.


The LGI of the year exceeds job standards in operations, customer service, training and physical conditioning.  They demonstrate passion for the service, leadership, integrity, and commitment.  They are reliable, approachable, respectful, professional and trusted by their crew to perform to high standards.


Patty Salgado, Ryan Vandever, Brian Winstead, Cortez Ritumalta


Ryan Vandever

Brian Winstead

Brian Winstead is a top notch lifeguard with a great attitude. He ranked high in the advanced academy amongst a very high caliber group. His disciplined and no excuses attitude provides a great example for younger guards to follow. Brian consistently seeks feedback to improve his performance and passes that knowledge to other guards. He takes initiative to train himself and others on all aspects of the job. You can find him 7 days a week completing a near death workout blaring loud classic rock around the station. He is an inspiration to the team and an excellent nominee for Lifeguard I of the year.

Patty Salgado

Patty Salgado has been a San Diego Lifeguard for 7 years and transferred from central to Ocean Beach as a main tower guard in 2020. Patty is always smiling and has a can do, positive attitude. She quickly adapted to the dynamic operations of the southern district. Soon after being acclimated to her new environment, she immediately started to train the newer Lifeguards, demonstrating her leadership capabilities. Patty brought her athleticism to the Ocean Beach relay team, and hoping to add another mug to her collection. Patty is a graduate of the Advanced Lifeguard Academy a 10-week Academy preparing Lifeguard Is to step into Lifeguard II position. When she is not Lifeguarding, you will still see her at the beach, locally or abroad surfing and smiling. 

Patty had many special assignments during this past year. She was selected to work at the Convention Center IMT during the Spring. While there, she was tasked with reinforcing COVID-19 guidelines to the homeless population. She performed these duties at a very high level and was a great ambassador of lifeguards. 

Patty assisted with LGI tryouts, the LGI Regional Academy, and the Crystal Pier memorial paddle out. These assignments involved water safety, logistics, and a high level of lifeguard proficiency.   

Patty has also filled in as an OCA LGII when she was needed. 

Cortez Ritumalta

As a 6th year lifeguard Cortez Ritumalta has the reputation of a 12th year guard. He is looked to as a quiet leader, someone who will always go out of his way to make sure operations run smoothly and his coworkers are taken care of. Cortez came to the Casa this summer to take on a leadership role during these unprecedented times and has performed exceptionally, as expected. Positive to a fault, Cortez keeps morale high not only at the Casa, but also at all of the satellite stations he frequently visits. Quick-witted with a mean sense of timing, Cortez can deliver jokes as effortlessly as he can a triangle choke or straight-right hand. That Cortez has managed to shine as a lifeguard at the Casa while also attending summer school to complete his degree in mechanical engineering is a testament to his work ethic. NERD! Even with all the time that Cortez puts in to finishing his degree, he shows up before work to workout and motivate the crew. Known as someone who will put in the time to help any lifeguard excel, Cortez is the first person to volunteer to train a new guard or help a veteran guard hone his or her skills. An expert at everything he does, Cortez has dedicated himself to the craft of being a professional lifeguard and waterman. 

Whether it is a slow day with time to train, or a critical situation, Cortez is the lifeguard you want with you.  

Please help me congratulate Cortez Ritumalta on his nomination for Seasonal Lifeguard of the Year. 

Ryan Vandever 

Ryan Vandever, “Vandy”, has been a top performer as a seasonal tower guard for his entire career. Ryan started his career in the central area, where he became known as a great lifeguard who could always be depended on. Ryan now works in the Southern Area and is an anchor on the team. Everywhere Ryan works, he is seen humbly performing his job to the highest level and treating others with kindness. He has a passion for lifeguarding and helping others.

Ryan possesses a relentless focus and work ethic, and is in constant pursuit of making others better. Ryan handles a large amount of work as a veteran main tower guard at Ocean Beach and prioritizes operational readiness. Whether it is RWC operation, training, equipment maintenance, or responding to emergencies, Ryan gives 100 percent effort to provide the best service possible. 

Not only does Ryan accel at day to day operations, he willingly takes on extra assignments without complaint. In 2020, Ryan achieved the following:

  • Served as an instructor and logistician for the Regional Lifeguard Academy, providing support and mentorship to lifeguard recruits.

  • Leader of safety and logistics team for Lifeguard I tryouts.

  • Miramar PWC Course Assistant Instructor

  • Fourth of July Logistics District Quartermaster

  • Substitute Senior Bay Guard

Ryan is a prime example of a utility player. He can perform any duty asked of him, plus some. If asked to be somewhere at 0800, he is there 0730 getting to work. He pays close attention to detail and identifies what actions need to be taken to make the mission a success, which otherwise may get overlooked.

Ryan is selfless with his time and energy and is always a pleasure to work with. He quietly performs his job with zero expectation of recognition. Thank you, Ryan, for all you do for the Lifeguard Division.

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