The winter junior lifeguard training program, taught by the Puerto Escondido Lifeguard Corps, has wrapped up after three strenuous months in which local youths not only learned about rescue and first aid techniques, but also got to know first hand the physical demands of the job.
Chief lifeguard and director of the junior program Godofredo Vázquez Bohórquez reported that some 200 youths signed up for the experience, adding that only about 120 concluded their training.
“Some can’t keep up,” he said, while others arrive late or miss training sessions.
The first assessment participants have to go through is determining who can swim, and then splitting them into three categories: those who do not know how to swim very well, those who can “defend themselves” and those who can swim like dolphins, explained the chief lifeguard.
The training exercises are certainly not for all. Sessions took place on weekends for about two hours. Lifeguards and their junior counterparts met at different beaches, like Zicatela, Marinero, Manzanillo or Carrizalillo, depending on the planned activity for the day.
The trainees, aged 7 to 17, learn to bodysurf, bodyboard and surf, participating too in rowing, snorkeling, rappelling, cycling and jumping from a boat, as well as a classic triathlon match.
During that match, for example, participants were split into four age categories: 7 to 9; 10 to 11; 12 to 14 and 15 to 17 years old, and had to pedal for one to four kilometers and run from 800 to 2,000 meters, according to their age group.
The free junior lifeguard program has been going strong for more than 10 years. Trainers combine physical training and water sports with instruction in first aid techniques and rescues at sea, bicycle rides of up to 14 kilometers, camping and a sand sculpture contest. These activities, they said, contribute to foster a sense of responsibility, self-improvement and teamwork.
“We have always adapted to sea conditions,” said Vázquez, remembering a day when they had planned to paddleboard, “but it was not possible due to the high waves.”
“Even snorkeling was not possible 100% either. Playa Carrizalillo is not suitable, there are waves, in Marinero the waves are strong as well and here in Manzanillo, which is the calmest, water also has a little movement,” he explained.
Parents have found in the training program a valuable teaching tool. “The most important thing in life is knowing how to swim,” said a resident of Colonia Marinero, whose two boys were part of the program.
“They are also learning rescues, to be able to help another person, getting up very early every day, always disciplined, we have not missed any sessions,” he added.
The next training period is already scheduled to start on July 1, the chief lifeguard said, remarking that young people have already been asking about it.
With reports from NVI Noticias