The rescues lasted just 30 seconds at the Walnut Grove Community Centre pool, with lifeguards tossing life preservers, pulling swimmers to the edge, and even rescuing a baby.
Then the whistles blew, the “struggling swimmers” got back in the water, and the whole thing was reset for the next team.
On Saturday, the 19th annual Langley Lifeguard Competition was held at the pool, with teams from all over the Lower Mainland competing for top honours as the best at first aid, water rescue, and fitness.
One of the competitors, Dan Marcotte of Coquitlam, was actually among the creators of the competition back in 1999, when the pool in Walnut Grove was brand new.
“It’s a blast, it’s a lot of nostalgia,” said Marcotte.
The day was broken down into a number of events to test a lifeguard’s skills, including:
• Individual first aid
• Lifesaving, in which teams of four try to rescue a group of people from a hypothetical water disaster
• A fitness event, including a race
• Group first aid
• Pool supervision events, to test the core skills of the participating lifeguards.
Marcotte, who worked in Langley Township rec facilities from 1994 to 2007, said the obvious answer in a lifesaving event may not be the right one.
The judges scattered around the pool with clipboards weren’t necessarily looking for the fastest rescue in a lifesaving event, but the best one.
The goal is to get everyone to safety, without endangering your team or yourself, Marcotte said. Just diving in and pulling someone to safety may be the most direct way, but not necessarily the best.
The event is a good way for lifeguards to meet one another and build some camaraderie, said Marcotte.
“It’s also a fun way to test your skills,” he said.