Surf lifeguard patrols will begin at beaches at Castlecliff and Mowhanau from next Saturday and volunteers are keen to push a water safety message as the summer days heat up.
There are familiar names in the line-up as some of the 2020 team are the children and younger siblings of former volunteers.
Lifeguarding tends to be a tradition in some local families and father and son James and Matthew Newell are both dedicated longtime servers with the Whanganui Surf Lifesaving Club.
Both received awards for their life saving services in the central region in July, with James awarded a regional Service Award, Distinguished Service Award and regional Life Membership Award.
Matthew was awarded the James Hunt Memorial Cup for Taranaki Volunteer of the Year for his contributions.
James was training with lifeguards at Castlecliff this week and said the message about swimming between the flags this summer is well worth repeating.
"Always talk to the guards," he said.
"Young children should always have someone with them at the beach but groups of older children can always ask guards for advice or lessons if they are not too busy."
Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) has issued warnings about rip currents or rips at the beach this summer.
"It is best to not swim in those areas at all," said James.
"Even strong, experienced swimmers can get into trouble."
SLSNZ chief executive Paul Dalton said lifeguards across the country have already conducted a number of rip-related rescues this season.
"Recent data tells us rips are one of the main causes of incidents and fatal drownings on New Zealand beaches. It's also worth noting that, over the last 10 years, 39 per cent of fatal drownings in the coastal environment [up to 1km offshore] occurred on surf beaches, which are notorious for rips," he said.
A rip is a narrow body of water moving out to sea like a river. The currents are caused by complex interactions between the ocean – such as tides and swell – and the shape of the seabed.
SLSNZ national coastal safety manager and seasoned surf lifeguard, Mick Kearney, said there are several things beachgoers can look for to help identify a rip, including calm patches in the surf.
"A patch in the surf with fewer breaking waves might look safe to swim in, but this is often a clear sign that a rip is present," Kearney said.
"If you see areas of deeper, darker water, or a rippled surface surrounded by smooth water, think of it as a river within the surf. Also look out for anything floating out to sea or foamy, discoloured water flowing out beyond the waves. The discolouration is created by the current picking up sand in the water as it moves out to sea."
James Newell said swimming between the flags is always the preferable option.