Rich Haynes, San Diego Lifeguard & Clairemont Resident Calls it a Career

Rich Haynes Clairemont resident and recently retired San Diego Lifeguard (Courtesy photo)

San Diego Lifeguard & Clairemont Resident Calls it a Career


Recently Rich Haynes worked his last day of employment as a San Diego Lifeguard.  It is not his last day as a guard because, once a Lifeguard, it is in your blood.  He will never fully relax at the beach and will likely find himself making a rescue or two while recreating on our wonderful shorelines.

I had the pleasure of working with Rich for the last 27 years.  I worked with him on most of our beaches.  At Ocean Beach and La Jolla Shores, we enjoyed some busy years with large surf and mass rescues.  We worked as a team on night calls and made numerous rescues that provided challenges, rewards and entertainment.

As a fellow Dive Team member, Rich was a reliable person with great insight.  During long days, he did more than his part to lighten the mood and improve morale with a witty joke or clever comment.

During the ‘98 El Niño, I served as his crewman and swimmer.  As a less experienced guard, I was amazed at his ability to pilot the Rescue Boat through the giant surf deep inside the cliffs.  His calm approach instilled confidence as he dropped me off to assist those in need.  We navigated the channel in closed out conditions and searched for victims in the fog before GPS was in use.

Losing Rich is another loss to the Lifeguard service and to the City of San Diego.  He is one of the past generation’s guards who really have seen it all.  We are now down to about 21 Level Three Boat Operators (a skill that takes years to master.)  We will lose many more in the next couple years; all who have saved hundreds of people.  They have experiences that most will never know.

Rich, it was real fun on most days and real sad on others.  The hundreds of victims you rescued will not remember your name, and you have forgotten more rescues than you remember.  No family forgets tragedy and preventing that makes it all worthwhile.  Under your watchful eye, they all went home at the end of “just another day at the beach.”  Thanks for your service, instruction and friendship.


Ed Harris is a husband and father of two, a San Diego Lifeguard Sergeant, union spokesman and a former District 2 San Diego City Councilmember.  He can be reached at

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