July 25, 2008

Junior Lifeguards to Compete at Seal Beach

By Pamela Hale-Burns

They're a vital part of a day at the beach, but even lifeguards want to have fun.

For almost 20 years, that fun has come in the form of the California Surf Lifesaving Association Southwest Regional Junior Lifeguard Championships.

The junior lifeguard programs provide beach and water safety training for boys and girls.

The regionals, which are being held this year in Seal Beach today and Saturday, officially began in 1980. The event includes lifeguards throughout California.

The event, which is usually held during the second week of July, is open only to the association membership from the 27chapters. The association is a regional member of the United States Lifesaving Association.

The lifeguards, who range in age from 9to 17, compete in individual and team events in which they have all been trained, such as the distance run, distance swim, run-swim-run, rescue paddle race, beach flags and several relays.

According to Seal Beach's Lifeguard Captain Joe Bailey, the event will take up a third of the beach on the north side, from the Seal Beach Pier to Fifth Street.

"We're expecting 1,500 to 2,000 participates," he said. "It's a small beach hosting a large competition with 29 to 30 teams with about 50 to 75 lifeguards each team."

And because "it's going to be a crowded beach day," beachgoers are encouraged to use the south side of the beach.

Bailey has been a lifeguard for 19 years and has loved every minute of it.

"I really enjoy all aspects of my job. I enjoy the beach and the water and helping people is a bonus. Just being outside, it's great."

He encourages others to get involved.

"Lifeguarding is a great summer job for some people," he said. "They get to be outside near the water. And the camaraderie between the lifeguards make it a great summer job. You may even get to save a life."

The junior competition is today from 9a.m. to 4 p.m. and the senior event is Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Seal Beach Pier. Visit www.cslsa.org.

[email protected], 562-499-1476

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