Junior Lifeguards Put Skills to the Test In Cocoa Beach
By Space Coast Daily // August 5, 2014
Competition was fun and fierce at the same time
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — The 2014 Southeast Regional Junior Lifesaving Championship was recently held on the beach at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach on July 26.
Eleven teams consisting of approximately 200 junior lifeguards from the southeast region put their skills to the test by competing in 8 challenging beach and ocean events such as distance beach running, distance swimming, paddleboard races, rescue relays, run-swim-run races, beach flags and the most challenging of all, the Iron Guard (run, swim, paddle, run).
Of those 11 teams, our local team, Space Coast Junior Lifeguards represented Brevard with 25 competitors. Team Pompano had the largest and strongest team of about 40 competitors. Competition was fun and fierce at the same time.
“Junior Lifeguards are a different breed of athlete. They are physically fit, mentally focused and must continuously come up with strategies to get the edge on the next athlete and to get through some tough ocean conditions at times” says Vanessa Ziade, program director.
“These kids use both mental and physical strength to compete in ocean conditions that are ever changing and challenging and they have to work as a team”, she added.
One of our local top Space Coast junior lifeguard athletes, Taylor Ziade (15), who remains undefeated in the beach flag event, once again won the gold medal in this event.
Taylor has been actively involved in the junior lifeguard program since the age of nine. Her strongest events are Beach Flags, the paddleboard race and swimming.
Her twin sisters, Brooke and Hagen Ziade have been following in her footsteps since age 9 and are strong contenders in the beach flags event. Hagen also walked away with the gold medal in beach flags on Saturday.
The pre-requisite to compete is that all juniors belong to and actively participate in junior lifeguard programs in the Southeast Region. These programs offer camps and competitive training during the summer months to prepare juniors for participation in local, regional and national surf lifesaving tournaments.
Prospective junior lifeguards must pass a swim test in order to be eligible for participation in a junior lifeguard program. This is not a learn to swim program. Juniors must have proficient swimming skills which will be used during the open water ocean events. The junior lifeguard curriculum also focuses on ocean safety education, CPR and First Aid education, personal safety, rescue techniques, sun safety, and environmental education.
Valuable life lessons are acquired during the program and at tournaments and lasting friendships are cultivated amongst the participants. There is a strong camaraderie and team spirit.
Roxy Underwood (10) of Indialantic who is also part of the Space Coast Junior Lifeguard competitive team loves to participate in training and tournaments any chance she gets. She has been involved in the program for the entire summer and has competed in several tournaments. She also competed in the Iron guard at the recent event.
Roxy says she loves participating in the junior lifeguard program “to have fun, I am really competitive and I love the ocean. I get stronger and can push myself to be better”.
In her own words, Roxy had this to say about her favorite events,“I like to compete in all of the events but my favorites are beach flags because it is hard core and the Iron Guard because it uses all of my adrenaline to compete in three events at once. I love it because not everybody can do it. It makes me push myself and I want to do it again.” Roxy’s little sister Ryla loves being a junior lifeguard and says she loves paddleboarding because she is fast and carrying the board makes her stronger.
The competitive team recently competed in an invitational tournament in Jacksonville Beach on July 19th and earned over 50 medals at that event.
The Space Coast Junior Lifeguard program, managed by Space Coast Youth Multi-sports operates in Indialantic from May to July. The beach camp program is for ages 7 and up and the competitive team is for ages 9 and up.
The program will be expanding north to Cocoa Beach in 2015. Sponsorship’s are needed to help fund equipment and to provide program scholarships for low income families who wish to participate.
Attached is two separate Facebook albums featuring hundreds of images taken from the event.