OCEAN BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) — Every summer, a unique, orange ball can be seen bobbing on the ocean's horizon just off the shore of Ocean Beach.
The "David Buoy" was placed off Ocean Beach pier last week, heralding in a summer tradition for the beach town.
The buoy is one of several deployed by San Diego lifeguards between North Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach every year for lifeguards to utilize as a workout destination. But Obecians have made the lifeguard tool something unique.
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Lifeguard Sgt. Rick Strobel and James Murphy, a junior lifeguard program director, helped to standardize the use of buoys every summer for workout programs. In Ocean Beach, a group of Obecians asked Strobel about the buoy and started to swim out to it themselves, Strobel told 10News.
"It became a topic of discussion, 'did you swim the buoy today,'" Strobel said. "They were also big David Bowie fans and the named it 'David Buoy.'"
Strobel says the following year, the group gave him a David Bowie sticker and asked him to place it on the buoy before it was set. In 2018, lifeguard Dana Vanos took it a step further and painted "OB" in large letters on it.
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"Then we took the buoy through the community and everyone loved it," Strobel said. "They signed the buoy, put messages of support for the lifeguards and stickers on it. It was great."
Last summer, Strobel says the buoy was stolen from storage. But it didn't stop the buoy fans.
"We posted this on Facebook and people were outraged," Strobel recalls.
So, Murphy purchased another buoy, which was then given the large "OB" once again and taken through town for locals to sign.
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"Lots of people swim every summer we estimate about 10, 000 buoy swims. Mostly lifeguards and junior lifeguards but swim teams water polo teams and triathletes as well," Strobel said. "'David Buoy' has been embraced by the OB community and we as lifeguards really appreciate the support."
Strobel says swimmers should always check with a lifeguard before swimming out to any buoys and swim when lifeguards are on duty. And if someone can swim to a buoy in about 10 minutes, " you are an excellent candidate to become a lifeguard."
"Know your limitations and know the conditions," Strobel says.
Lifeguard tryouts are held every September for the following summer. Anyone interested in become a San Diego Lifeguard can find more information on the city's website here.