Irvine teen Olivia Severson on the job in Huntington Beach.

Dream job: Irvine teen is HB lifeguard

by TOMOYA SHIMURA

It’s hard to beat the view from Olivia Severson’s “office.”

Five days a week, the University High School senior climbs a lifeguard tower in Surf City, USA, and gazes over the ocean.

It’s a dream job, says the 17-year-old, now in her second year as a lifeguard.

She points to the 1,850-foot-long Huntington Beach Pier and recalls her lifeguard tryouts in 2018.

The water was 57 degrees, and the air temperature wasn’t much warmer. But neither the cold nor the waves could deter her. She swam the length of the pier and back in the required time, competing against applicants nearly all older than her.

Soon after, Severson became one of the youngest lifeguards for the city of Huntington Beach.

“I love it,” Severson says. “You are working at the beach every day and spending quality time with fellow lifeguards.”

Not yet 18, she already knows more about saving lives and keeping others safe than most adults.

It isn’t easy. Many people, even adults, don’t realize when they’re in danger, like swimming near a rip current.

She keeps a watchful eye on the crowds, attending to those in need.

“I’m proud of myself for doing my best and helping people,” she says.

 

Living In Irvine

Irvine has allowed Severson to pursue her lifeguarding passion.

“Living in Irvine, which is so close to the beach, ocean safety is such an integral part of life for residents here,” she says. “I’m grateful that I can live in a place where the weather is nice, the views are great and the ocean is nearby.”

She’s always loved swimming – she plays goalie for University High’s water polo team – and visiting the beach with her family.

She joined the junior lifeguard program at age 10, eventually becoming a captain. That allowed her to try out as a lifeguard at age 16, one year before most teens can apply.

Even then, she made the cut among 50 applicants trying out.

“This job has given me confidence and continues to grow my confidence,” she says. “I want to be a lifeguard as long as I possibly can – maybe even after college.”