By: Nainika Kristapati
Covered in vibrant, bursting colors, with a durable whistle around their neck, fashionable shades and a touch of sunscreen on their nose, lifeguards are heroes in waiting when others go for a swim.
Lifeguards from across Texas put their skills and training to the test as they competed to show their metal at the Texas State Lifeguard Championship at the Jack Carter Pool in Plano, Texas, this summer. Eighty-three percent of the teams competing were entirely Red Cross-certified lifeguards, highlighting their understanding of preventing and managing emergencies in and around the water.
Each qualified lifeguard team was excited to compete and be named the best of the best if they came out on top. A total of 12 teams made it out of the state's regional competitions, including the Gulf Coast Guard Games, Central Texas Guard Games and North Texas Guard Games.
"Teams like North Texas had a whopping 23 teams show up to regionals, so to be able to succeed as the top three or even top four is a huge accomplishment," President of Texas Public Pool Counsel Erica Peace said.
At the championship, the state's elite teams competed in fitness, lifeguarding skills, knowledge and team-building events. Additionally, participants used vital decision-making and lifesaver abilities. These scenarios allowed them to continue to build familiarity with event challenges, including Scenarios, Scanning, First Aid, Passive CPR/AED—part of Red Cross lifeguarding certification training—and Spinal engagement.
"The Red Cross certification is a great all-encompassing implementation as guards are able to utilize training to work through a range of scenarios," Peace said. "Some [scenarios] are very versatile, as there are ones on even what to do if a tooth pops out."
The all-around competition sharpened participants' skills to prepare them for any situation while they enjoyed a lively, memorable time. It also opened new doors. In one instance, lifeguards from Plano were able to unite with guards from Baytown, Texas, outside of Houston. It allowed them to work together in the name of lifeguarding to become better stewards of the people they serve.
"Our biggest goal in this competition is to use it as a teaching opportunity to harbor education and learning while bringing them together," Peace said. "All these guards are innately competitive. It's just in their blood."
Around 125 individuals attended the Texas State Lifeguard Championship—50 heroic competitors and 75 supportive judges and volunteers. Lifeguards competed, used valuable instruction and applied their expertise to unpredictable situations near water or even in an everyday setting. The skills they exhibited further recognized lifeguards as heroes among us.
"Many believe, once you're a lifeguard, you're always a lifeguard," Peace said. "You take this training with you for the rest of your life as you never forget that CPR or that rescue. It sticks with you, and I admire it as creating a more progressed, well-rounded person."
Check out photos from the Texas State Lifeguard Championship HERE.