“Saving lives in the water has been an American Red Cross tradition for nearly 100 years,” says Maxine Margaritis, CEO of the American Red Cross Utah Region.
It is this tradition that propels Margaritis to ensure that the Red Cross hosts Lifeguard Games showcasing competing teams of trained lifeguards. The Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross Utah Region has hosted Lifeguard Games for the past 15 years.
Twenty-five teams of six competitors each traveled to Salt Lake City from throughout Utah and Wyoming to join in this year’s challenge. Most participants were Red Cross-trained lifeguards under the age of 19. Events included First Aid, submerged victim retrieval, deep water rescue, spinal injury management, CPR/AED and problem solving.
Amanda Rodriguez, 19, from The Loners team, representing Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center, said, “This is an awesome refresher of American Red Cross standards. It helps keep us in check since we know we’re being judged and we’re able to practice control and not panicking.”
All events were judged by certified Lifeguard Instructors who evaluated both technique and adherence to official American Red Cross standards. To keep the competition from getting too serious, fun events such as an obstacle course, trivia and ring buoy toss were included.
It took 57 volunteers and several organizations to make the Lifeguard Games possible. Linnea Fletcher, Utah Red Cross Lifeguard Games coordinator, said, “This event gives an opportunity for so many people to work together to make it happen, including the Water Safety Committee and Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center.”
While there was no cash prize for the event, the nearly unanimous sentiment of “We’re here to have fun!” resonated among the participants. Natalie Peacock, 16, of Team Avengers, representing Clearfield Aquatic Center, said, “It is interesting to see how other aquatic centers do things and learn from them, too.”