International Surf Festival
2006 Lifetime Achievement Honoree
Lifeguard Section Chief Gary Crum
Gary Crum is the recipient of the 2006 Los Angeles County Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement award. For 35 years, Gary served the Los Angeles County Lifeguards with great distinction. He distinguished himself as a lifeguard, as a leader, as a competitor, as an advocate for the lifeguards through the Los Angels County Lifeguard Association and now the International Surf Festival and as a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Lifeguards in Southern California, in the state, and throughout the United States and Australia.
Gary grew up surrounded by lifeguard lore and legends. In 1960 he became a L.A. County Jr. Lifeguard in the first year of the program.
Whether he was serving as a recurrent, a permanent, a Captain, or a Section Chief, watching the water and saving lives has been the priority. From the time Gary started his career in 1966 as a recurrent until he retired as a Section Chief in 2001, he has always been a leader. From 1974 through 1983 he served as a Captain and in that capacity, among numerous other duties, he headed up the Jr. Lifeguard Program and the Lifeguard Training Academy. In 1984 he became a Section Chief. After 3 years leading Zuma Beach and 3 years as Section Chief in Lifeguard Division, he served 11 years as the Section Chief in charge of the Southern Section which includes all the beach from Cabrillo Beach on the south to Marina del Rey on the north. During this period, he also served as Paramedic Coordinator and the Swift Water Coordinator.
Gary was also a top competitor. As a doryman, he was on 11 winning Taplin teams. As a Section Chief, he inspired his Zuma and Southern Section teams to numerous victories. In addition, he was a member of 10 Intracrew championship teams, 8 United States Lifesaving Championship Teams, and was a 4 time representative to Australia as part of the Wieland Shield exchange.
Gary was the President of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association when LACOLA became certified as the official bargaining unit for the lifeguards. During his four-year term in office, LACOLA had an amazing 100% membership of all recurrent and all full time lifeguards. Under his term as president, Gary created the non-profit LACOLA Trust fund and was an original trustee. He serves as co-coordinator of the Lifeguard Alumni Association. He served as President of the International Surf Festival for ten years, and with Dennis McCarberry helped establish the Lifeguard Medal of Valor ceremony.
Perhaps most importantly, Gary Crum was a key figure in the battle to return the L.A. County Lifeguards to State owned beaches and to fold the L.A. County Lifeguards into the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Gary grew up surrounded by lifeguard lore and legends. He learned from the best and then took what was given and made it even better.
The International Surf Festival
The International Surf Festival began in 1963 and has been held annually for 57 consecutive years. The festival is Co-sponsored by the cities and chambers of commerce from Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance and the County of Los Angeles. Dwight Crum, was the first Chairman of the International Surf Festival and held this position for 10 years. When Dwight Crum retired in 1972 the Pier to Pier Swim was renamed in his honor. Since Gary Crum’s retirement from the Los Angeles County Fire Department in 2001, he has been actively involved with the International Surf Festival and he like his father served as President of the festival for 10 years. In 2010 Gary became the Swim Coordinator for the Dwight Crum Pier to Pier Swim. This two mile swim which goes from the Hermosa Pier to the Manhattan Pier is one of the largest and most prestigious open water swims in the country. In 2019 this swim had 1350 swimmers including swimmers from 30 different states and 6 different countries.