Lifeguards showed off their skills in a variety of events including; distance run, distance swim, paddle board, run-swim-run, a swim relay, and beach flags.
On Saturday, July 19th, The City of Fernandina Beach Parks and Recreation Department took eleven pool and beach junior lifeguards to compete in the annual Jacksonville Beach Junior Lifeguard Challenge. Many of the junior lifeguards trained during the junior lifeguard programs offered by the City this summer. They showed off their skills in a variety of events including; a distance run, a distance swim, a paddle board race, run-swim-run, a swim relay race, and beach flags.
Highlights include Hamilton Rainey who took home many medals including four gold medals.
Also, Madison Gates who trained at the pool and at the beach throughout the summer was one of the youngest to compete at age 10 years old. Madison was extremely brave along with the other junior lifeguards who persevered through heavy surf, swimming to buoys hundreds of meters offshore.
Madison was one of ten kids that participated in a junior lifeguard program that offered pool lifeguard training after school last spring, and continued with beach lifeguard training throughout the summer. This program was sponsored by the Ed Gaw Open Water Challenge Fund which donates funds to programs that promote youth water safety in our community.
A very special rescue board was used at the competition by Jonathan Azar, a Fernandina Beach ocean rescue lifeguard to patrol the competition waters keeping the junior lifeguards safe during their races. This rescue board (seen in pictures) was donated to Angela Ray and the City of Fernandina Beach Parks & Recreation Department by the Princess of Monaco Foundation in association with the International Surf Lifesaving Association in a campaign to prevent drowning in communities around the world.
These highly efficient rescue boards are very expensive and we are extremely fortunate to have one donated to our City! Angela was able to establish connections with the International Lifesaving Association and Lifeguards Without Boarders when she and Hannah Wrenn (also from Fernandina Beach) participated in a lifesaving mission in Nicaragua last April. These connections will help support drowning prevention efforts in our community through grants and scholarships, training support, and international opportunities for local lifeguards.
Pictured: Junior lifeguards and instructors from right to left; Top row: Angela Ray, Cutter Naismith, Hamilton Rainey, Nancy Chandler, Ryan Noble, James Oakes. Bottom row: Erica Teare, Mary Emma Degaris, Felicity Acosta, Mary Ferguson, Amelie Nichol, Rebecca McConnell, and Madison Gates.