For the fourth consecutive year, the U of O took first place at the OULC, in addition to taking first place in the U-League for the second year in a row. The Fulcrum sat down with two members of the club to find out more about the sport of lifeguarding.
“We compete all year,” said Robyn Stevens, third-year nursing student and member of the U of O Lifeguarding Club. “[U-league] keeps points depending on your placing and how many teams you have all through the year, and then we have the Ontario University Lifeguard Championships.
“We won the University League … and that really just speaks to how you have to have a pretty solid club, because you can score up to two teams in every competition. So we’ve sent two teams to every competition, if not more, all year, and consistently had good results.”
Fourth-year math major Dominique Imano learned about the sport when he was working as a lifeguard at Montpetit pool.
“The coach needed a few extra members; they were trying to get the club to grow,” said Imano. “I went to a few practices. I thought, ‘I’ll try a few competitions, see how it goes from there,’ and I think it’s one of those things where you try it once and you immediately get addicted to it. You have so much fun doing it.”
Depending on the competition, teams of two or four compete in events including water rescue, priority assessment, first aid, medley relay, and obstacle relay.
“It’s testing lifeguard skills. Lifeguarding is the first sport where you learn the skills for humanitarian purposes and only then apply them to sport,” explained Stevens.
While events such as swimming relays focus on the lifeguards’ physical abilities and fitness, others present emergency scenarios the lifeguards must respond to.
“[This year] they had a scuba diver—full-gear and everything—in the pool, who had supposedly had a heart attack,” said Stevens. “You had to swim down to the bottom of the pool, carry up this big 200lb scuba diver with all his equipment and tanks on, and remove him out of the pool.”
Not all the events involve water. One involves a campsite environment, where someone in a tent has collapsed and needs CPR, while someone else has a bloody nose.
“You have to call 911 if you have a major victim. Sometimes there’s a phone on a victim, sometimes there’s one on the wall, so it’s always a bit of a scramble to find the phone. In this situation someone came in talking on a cellphone halfway through.”
“All this is done in a super short time frame,” added Imano. “You only have four minutes to deal with all these issues and figure all this out, so it really works on your emergency responsiveness which is obviously really relevant to what we do in real life.”
“It’s being able to think straight with all this adrenaline and communicate with your team and see what’s in front of you. It’s really practical and about being able to treat your victims,” said Stevens.
The U of O had four teams compete in the OULCs, winning first, second, eighth, and 10th place out of the 14 competing teams. While some members now spend their summer competing with city clubs at the provincial and national level, others will work as lifeguards while awaiting the start of the sport again come September.
“The best lifeguards are competitive lifeguards,” Stevens mentioned.
The U of O Lifeguarding Club always welcomes new members, but Stevens and Imano explained in order to compete, members need to be NLS-certified lifeguards. Those interested in becoming lifeguards or who want to practice their first aid skills are invited to practice
with the club as well. Volunteers to play victims at competitions are also in high demand.
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