Like father, like son: Volusia lifeguard follows in father's sandy footsteps
Clayton DuBrule remembers jumping off the Daytona Beach Main Street Pier as a kid with his father, Tom DuBrule, by his side. It was a lifeguard tradition. They would throw roses off the pier into the water to honor lifeguards who died. About a decade later, DuBrule is following in his father’s footsteps by being a lifeguard with the Volusia Lifesaving Association.
As a 19-year-old Ormond Beach resident, Clayton is in his first year as a full-time lifeguard. He began part-time at age 16 and quickly found his passion in it.
For the DuBrules, lifeguarding is a family business.
Clayton’s father was a lifeguard for 25 years until 2015 when he transitioned to being an Emergency Medical Technician. His uncle, Matt, is a lifeguard in Honolulu, Hawaii, and his 16-year-old sister, Josee, is taking her first strides into the waves as a lifeguard this year.
As Clayton prepared to compete his first event of the 2017 United States Lifesaving Association National Lifeguard Championships on Aug. 10, he knew his father was nearby watching and ready to offer advice. After all, Tom competed in 10 National Lifeguard Championships himself.
“(Clayton) went to these competitions years ago and said he wanted to be a guard one day,” Tom DuBrule, 50, said. “And here he is competing now. He’s doing great. He trained really hard this summer, getting up early in the morning and working out every day.”
Clayton said he learned a lot from watching his father guard and compete over the years.
“He would always give me tips, or he would give me a hard time if I’m doing something wrong — just to help me tighten up,” Clayton said. “I’d say the best thing he taught me is to be vigilant.”
For five months before the competition, Clayton spent five days a week training. He arrived at the Ormond YMCA swimming pool by 5:30 a.m. or the shores of Daytona Beach by 6 a.m. for practice on different lifesaving boats and to run.
While Clayton didn’t move onto the finals in this year’s competition, his training didn’t go to waste. He said it keeps him in shape for his role as a lifeguard.
Clayton hopes future DuBrule generations will keep the lifeguard family tradition alive.
“My children probably won’t have a choice,” he laughed.