Lifeguard competition tests water rescue skills as summer starts

By Sonya

ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCIV) -- Although it has felt like summer for a couple of weeks now, the season officially began at 1:04 a.m.

Lots of people decided to spend their summer solstice, the longest day of the year, on the sand or in the water. While others were relaxing, some were brushing up their lifeguarding skills.

"We just had our local lifeguard competition between Charleston County and Mount Pleasant. We did a lot of run and swim events in the water. We had a good relay race and just had our beach flag event that was really fun," said Chris Roxon, a beach lifeguard.

While the lifeguards enjoy the competitiveness of the event, it's all about keeping the public safe.

"The first half of the day is at the beach so they get to do a lot of their physical skills, things that they would do for a real rescue at the beach and then this afternoon when we move to the pool we'll do some spinal scenarios, medical scenarios, things that they might find at the water park or at the pool, so it's a good mix of all their skills," said Nikki Bowie, Safety Program Manager.

The lifeguards have been monitoring the beach since May, so now is a great time to help them refresh those vital skills that they learned at the beginning of the swimming season.

"The biggest thing that we teach them is recognition and prevention, not letting anybody get in trouble or get too far out. It's the same thing for the water parks too. We really stress that parents watch their children and don't assume that the lifeguards are going to babysit them," said Bowie.

So the bottom line is to stay safe, but be sure to enjoy the beach this summer.