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Lifeguards compete for bragging rights at Huntington State Beach

A fierce competition on the sand and in the surf will bring hundreds of junior lifeguards and lifeguards to compete at Huntington State Beach this weekend.

The Toyota California Surf Life Saving Championships kick off on Friday, July 23, with the junior lifeguards competition, followed by older, experienced lifeguards from up and down the coast competing the following day.

The two-day event offers bragging rights for the winning agency, said Huntington State Beach Junior Lifeguard Association president Kai Weisser, who is co-organizing the event with State Park Junior Lifeguard program organizer Chris Egan.

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The annual championships were canceled last year by the coronavirus pandemic, and this year they came close to not happening when officials in Carpinteria, which had been preparing to host the events, decided to cancel because of ongoing pandemic concerns. State Parks offered to host competitors in Huntington Beach.

“With just over 30 days’ notice, we volunteered,” Weisser said. “It usually takes 12 months to plan, we’re doing it in 30 days.”

Weisser said a large portion of the competitors come from Los Angeles, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach to represent.

For  the first day’s event, an estimated 500 junior guards from 25 different beaches are expected to participate.

“It’s an opportunity for these kids to get exposure to the competitions lifeguards have. They get to showcase their skills, get to meet other junior lifeguards from up and down the coast,” Weisser said. “They spend the whole summer on their beach, now they get to go to another beach and compete against other kids.”

Each beach gets a limited number of competitors, with about 100 signed up for Saturday’s lifeguard event – fewer competitors than the previous day because many are already working busy beaches filled with summer crowds.

“It’s hard for the beaches to let go of staff for time off,” Weisser said. “It’s tough for lifeguards to get away to go compete. Those that do, they really have a very big passion.”

Races include a mix of running, swimming, paddleboarding and surf-skiing. Saturday’s event will include the popular dory boat races.

Another big lifeguard competition, the San Clemente Ocean Festival, will not be held this year, but plans were recently announced for July 16 and 17, 2022.

The 58th International Surf Festival, hosted this year by the city of Torrance, is scheduled for July 28 through Aug. 1 in the South Bay.

Thousands of participants, ages 8 to in their 80s,  show up for events across South Bay beaches, including the Judge Taplin Lifeguard Medley Relay, the Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim, and the Charlie Saikley 6-Man Volleyball Tournament.  Other events include a surfing contest, bodysurfing contest, beach run, paddleboard races, dory race and youth events.

The upcoming lifeguard competitions are also a precursor for the United States Livesaving Association’s championships in Texas the first weekend of August.

The Toyota California Surf Life Saving Championships will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days at Huntington State Beach near Beach Boulevard, between towers 13 and 14.


Source: Orange County Register

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