Michael Barnes had himself a pretty impressive run as a student-athlete at nearby Indian River High School. The 2020 graduate was a state-level swimmer, as well as a state champion with the boys’ volleyball team for the Indians.
His swimming prowess led him to the shores of Bethany Beach, where for the past four years Barnes has worked as a lifeguard for the Bethany Beach Patrol. The Ocean View resident is this week’s featured guard in our 2020 Summer Lifeguard Series.
“I love the beach, and grew up going to the beach almost every day,” Barnes said. “I have always looked up to the Bethany lifeguards. I thought, ‘What an amazing job,’ and how I wanted to do it one day.”
The son of Jim and Kathleen Barnes, Michael has a younger brother, Carson, who is a junior this year at IR. Michael is currently a freshman at the University of Delaware, where he is majoring in finance.
Barnes said he has really enjoyed his time as a lifeguard, and that he utilizes the skills and training he’s received these past four years in his everyday life.
“I have learned to be responsible, because we are responsible for people’s lives every day,” said Barnes. “Also, I have learned public-speaking skills, because we are always communicating to the public and are an authority figure on the beach.”
Barnes has seen his share of excitement over these past four years, but there is one particular rescue that stands out in his mind.
“It was a cloudy day, and the surf was around 4 feet,” he recalled. “Even though it was cloudy, people were on the beach. I was watching this kid playing in waist-deep water, and I saw a rip [current] open up. I saw the kid get sucked out and jumped off the stand to go save him. Once I got to him, I could tell he was scared. He grabbed onto the rescue buoy, and I calmed him down. Once I got him to shore, his mom came over and thanked me for saving her child.
“That rescue stands out the most, because if I wasn’t there he might have drowned.”
Barnes said he is hoping that he’ll be able to still work as a lifeguard for another year or two, but it will all depend on whether he gets an internship through his major at UD. In his downtime or even in the off-season away from the beach, Barnes helps his mother with her job as a home stager for Seaside Home Staging.
Whenever his time is up as a guard, Barnes knows that he will be able to take many great memories, as well as some lifelong friends, with him.
“This patrol is like a second family to me, and it is great to know that we will always have each other’s backs because of this job,” Barnes concluded. “I have made many friendships that will last a lifetime.”