63-year-old aims to become a lifeguard

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Ed Gutentag said he’s been swimming for as long as he can remember.

“If you’re here and you’re breathing and you’re walking, there’s no excuse not to be physically fit, emotionally fit, and one of the most important things to me is to share that with other people,” said Gutentag, Panama City resident.

Gutentag moved to the panhandle last May and started talking with the South Walton lifeguards on a double red flag day.

“I said, ‘can’t I just go in up to my knees?’ ‘Nope,’ I said, ‘what if I go in anyway?’ ‘Please don’t go in,” said Gutentag.

This is when Gutentag got the idea to become a lifeguard himself.

It isn’t unusual for him to dive into a new job. He currently owns an oriental rug business and before that, he worked as a cinematographer.

“I’ve worked on Titanic, I’ve worked with Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, you know I’ve worked with the best people in the industry,” said Gutentag.

One of the qualifications to become lifeguard certified is to pass a test that challenged him most- swimming 500 meters in under 10 minutes.

“Long story-short, six weeks later, it took me 12 tries. I did 9:51, which means I cut my time down by 40%,” said Gutentag.

Now that he’s passed the swimming and running tests., he said he’s days away from accomplishing his goal of becoming lifeguard certified.

“It takes a bit of time, but it’s so worth the pursuit because can you imagine a parent coming up to you and saying, ‘thank you you saved my child’s life,” said Gutentag.

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