While the temperature continues to hit the high 80s and 90s this week, Silver Lake Beach was busy as the summer begins.
“It is way busier than last year, when there was nobody at the beach,” lifeguard Torin Hanson said. Hanson has been a lifeguard at Silver Lake for three years and said this summer is more interesting than last summer.
Hanson was supervising the concession stand with lifeguard Camryn Humke.
They both said they enjoy the job and were glad people were back at the lake this year. On Thursday afternoon the beach was packed as the temperature hit 90 degrees.
“The worst part is the heat,” Hanson said.
“It has been full the last couple of days as the heat as hung around,” Humke said. Humke is from Portage and this is her fourth year as a Silver Lake Beach lifeguard.
Humke said there have not been any issues this year so far at the beach. She did mention a kayak had tipped over earlier in the week.
“We haven’t had any issues with swimmers outside the roped area,” Humke said. “Technically once they are out of the roped area, they are out of our jurisdiction.”
The roped off area is for swimming and the rest of the lake is for fishing, boating, kayaking and other water recreation. The Parks and Recreation Department oversees the beach and allows no outside floating apparatus in the roped off area.
Mike Percy said the reason for the rule is so there are no visual impairments for the lifeguards monitoring the swimming area. Percy is the recreation coordinator for Portage Parks and Recreation Department.
A 13-year-old boy drowned in Silver Lake in 2018 while he was outside the roped in swimming area with an inflatable toy.
The beach officially opened Memorial Day weekend and was supposed to be commemorated with a new water slide. However, there has been a delay with the manufacturer and it is unknown when the slide will be installed.
The group Positively Portage was behind funding for the slide and has ideas to add more features to the lake to make it more inviting to families.
Sean Malone of Positively Portage said, “If we can keep kids inside the roped off area, and this slide is an incentive to do that, then we may be able avoid another tragedy.”
Following the drowning at Silver Lake signs were installed stating the risk of swimming outside the roped off area. There are also signs stating that swimming without a lifeguard on duty, as in after hours, is done at their own risk.
Mike Percy, recreations coordinator with the Parks and Recreation Department said the lifeguards begin their shifts at 11 a.m. They do not post a closing because it depends on the weather.
“The closing varies depending on a number of things like weather and how many people are at the beach,” Percy said.
Percy did not give any update on the slide installation because he has not heard anything from the manufacturer.
“We are getting asked every day about the new slide and sadly I have no update. I wish I did,” Percy said. “The manufacturer has not given us any estimated delivery date or even a time frame of when it could be installed at the lake.”
Percy said the summer has been going well so far at the beach.
“So far, so good,” Percy said. “The main thing we are seeing is people leaving behind trash. We’re finding towels, sandals and other things being left behind on the beach.”
Hanson and Humke are both excited about spending the rest of the summer as lifeguards at the beach.
“I’m excited, like a lot of other people, to be doing stuff,” Humke said. “It should be a fun summer.”