Although it may not look like a long distance from the shore, the lifeguards know that swimming 120 meters to rescue someone is taxing.
At the 2017 USLA Gulf Coast Regional Championship, junior and veteran lifeguards were pushed to their limits.
The competition is fierce, but Haydn Jones, a lifeguard with the Padre Beach Rescue Association, always looks forward to this time of year.
“A lot (of what you learn) is the camaraderie. I always look forward to this time of year, and through this program I’ve met friends from the East and West coast,” Jones said.
This is Jones’ fourth regional competition. He will be attending the national competition for the third time in August.
“It’s on a whole other level. You’re competing against career lifeguards who might be doing the competition for the 10th time,” Jones said.
Padre Beach Rescue Association is hosting the regional championship this year. It is the first time it has done so. The competition features teams from South Padre Island and CameronCounty, as well as from Galveston, Corpus Christi and Port Aransas. The events Saturday included a 2K in the morning, a surf race, a board race and swim rescue.
“It is comparable to running a marathon. It definitely tests you,” said Jim Pigg, who is with the Padre Beach Rescue Association.
The regional championship is a good way to train for the national competition, which will be from Aug. 8-11 in Daytona Beach, Florida, Pigg said. To train for both competitions, the lifeguards of the Padre Beach Rescue Association follow a strict routine.
Every morning before taking their post, they do a one-hour workout. They also do a workout separate from that to train, Pigg said.
Sarah White has been with the Padre Beach Rescue Association for three summers. Daytona Beach will be her first national championship.
“I’m very nervous but also very excited. It’s going to be a good experience,” White said. “You meet lifeguards that do this for a living. It’s so intense, and it’ll be fun to see what it’s all about.”
The competition concludes this afternoon.