In 1997, six year old Lauren Hollaway started swimming for the Galveston Island Swim Team and 4 years later started as a Galveston Island Beach Patrol Junior Lifeguard along with other future guards Laura Carr, Jessica Riedel, Anna Hyatt, Bori Juhasz, and Mary Stewart.
Still 10, she told her dad she wanted her own Beach Patrol truck one day. She was able to compete in the United States Lifesaving Association National Competitions in places like Daytona Beach, Virginia Beach, and Huntington Beach.
At 16, she tried out for Beach Patrol along with a whole bunch of other Junior Lifeguards. She worked hard and moved up the ranks.
She graduated Ball High School in 2009. In 2013, she graduated from Tulane with a Bachelor’s in Science Management- Marketing and Finance. Upon graduation she worked in Houston doing marketing for a sportswear company. Having grown up on the beach she didn’t like city life or the urban lifestyle. She missed being by the water and when an opening came up she applied for a position as a full time Lifeguard Supervisor for the Beach Patrol.
When asked why she wants to work as a career lifeguard she said she “loves interacting with the public, raising public awareness related to beach safety, and how we as an organization share our passion for the beach and for the safety of others”. She says “you can see the difference you can make in a beachgoer’s life just through a small interaction”.
She always appreciated supervisors she had coming up who took extra time to mentor a young guard. Supervisors like Amie Hufton, Loree Pryor, and Gretchen Tyson were big influences on her and are largely responsible for her love of “the family aspect that is so integral to this job”.
She finds the biggest challenge to be showing new guards how to best interact with the public, especially teaching conflict resolution strategies and how to enforce rules. Once, as a young guard, she expressed her frustration with a beach patron to Loree Pryor who immediately asked her, “When you’re on vacation, do you think about your own safety?” This put it in perspective for Lauren. You have to be able to meet people where they are and understand their situation/point of view before you can reach resolution.
Another challenge is teaching the true understanding that the beach environment is in a constant state of flux. She says that “Getting this concept to the newer lifeguards is particularly challenging because they’re nervous and rigid, and not used to such a changing environment. There are no guard rails or bumpers at the beach”.
She says “This organization has opened so many doors for me… being able to handle such responsibility at a young age because of my experiences working the beach has been an invaluable life experience and has equipped me to deal with a variety of circumstances…[It] gives a broader perspective and keeps you grounded. Once you’ve dealt with life and death, normal day to day issues seems pretty manageable.”