"This is the real deal," said Steve Norman, a New York resident. "This is not once every four years. This is everyday putting your life on the line, and these guys are bringing people in and bringing them home."
The competition may draw swimmers from all corners of the country, but one county usually dominates. Not only are the Los Angeles County lifeguards guarding the beach, they are also guarding a multi-year championship title streak.
"The L.A. County lifeguards have won it 15 times in a row," Hubbell said. "They're the dominant force down here. We've got the cream of the crop. You go down the beach, you can see some of the best-looking bodies of men and women in the country."
Facing the L.A. County dynasty, most other teams know that they are swimming against a strong current. Even though winning is the goal, the lifeguards said there are so many other benefits to competing in Manhattan Beach.
"We're just out here to have fun," said Texas competitor Josh Hale. "We're in California. It's a nice change."
More than 2,000 lifeguards are participating in the competition that continues through Saturday.