Wednesday, 13 November 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Lifeguarding American style

Two Mercury Bay Area School students recently returned from a trip of a lifetime patrolling the golden sands of Huntington Beach, California.

Lifeguards, Harry Evans and Caleb Hogarth, were among the 17 members of the Tairua Surf Lifesaving Club who took part in an international exchange held every three years in conjunction with their counterparts in Piha.

The two Year 13s went through an intensive 18-month training programme to prepare them for the physical demands of lifeguarding American-style. “They do everything we do, but it’s on such a bigger scale and so much more intense,” said Caleb who, along with Harry, is also part of the MBAS First XV rugby team.

“I thought the training was physically demanding, but we definitely needed it. The fitness levels of the US guards are pretty incredible. We had the opportunity to shadow the local guards and see how they do things, and it really tested us,” said Caleb.

Harry said the experience had provided great inspiration for improving and developing his own skills. “Being in the towers and trucks with the lifeguards helped me to understand the gigantic task they have and how well they patrol the beach. I found it really interesting to see how each lifeguard was so proactive and that they always had someone else ready to support them.”

During the two-week trip, the boys stayed with host families and also participated in social activities away from the beach.

“I really enjoyed hanging out with my billet, David. I think this gave me a truly immersive and authentic American experience. David and his family not only looked after me, but welcomed me into their family unit. Through this, I formed some close friendships with not only David, but many of the other Americans, as well as some fellow New Zealanders,” said Harry.

The trip aims to grow confidence and leadership skills among the Tairua Surf Lifesaving Club’s members who are making the transition from junior to senior guards. As part of the exchange, they assisted as volunteer instructors on the Huntington Beach junior surf programme which has around 1,000 kids participating, compared to a maximum of 100 on the Tairua version.

Both boys will be putting what they have learned into practice at Tairua Beach over the summer months and are eager to inspire new recruits to follow in their footsteps.

“It was just an incredible experience, I learned so much and it has definitely made me excited to do more travelling in the future. I would highly recommend anyone to get involved in surf lifesaving. The opportunities it brings and the friendships you make are fantastic. The training can be tough, but it’s totally worth it,” said Caleb.

The Tairua lifeguards will welcome their Huntington Beach colleagues to the Coromandel in December for the second half of the exchange. “I’m already looking forward to it,” said Caleb. “It will be awesome to be able to return the fantastic hospitality we received and to show them some of our amazing local area.”

Pictured: Caleb Hogarth (back row, second from right) and Harry Evans (back row, third from right), were among 17 members of Tairua Surf Lifesaving Club who recently participated in a lifeguard exchange in Huntington Beach, California.

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