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USLA Southeast Region Championships come to Flagler Beach!

Carla Cline
Carla Cline

Flagler Beach is playing host to the USLA Southeast Region Championships, kicking off this Thursday, Friday and Saturday (July 16-18, 2015), with over 400 participants scheduled to compete. The three day event will take place on the south side of the pier, starting at 8am and running until approximately 4pm. The Southeast Region encompasses most of Florida, Alabama, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. There are 16 events for the Lifeguard division and eight events for the Junior Lifeguard division, which will take place on Saturday. 

While I was quickly putting together this post, I became flooded with memories of my old Flagler Beach lifeguard days. I had been a competitive swimmer for over 11 years and loved the ocean, so naturally a job lifeguarding was an obvious choice. I had spent a few summers in the junior lifeguard program (mainly so I would get an opportunity to sit tower with one of our super good looking local guards :)) but also because the lifeguard competitions were so much fun!

As a junior and lifeguard I remember competing in the Ocean Swim, Paddle Board, Run-Swim-Run, Rescue Race, and the Iron Women. Being an avid pool swimmer, it was a whole different experience to be swimming in open ocean water surrounded by hundreds of flailing arms. There were also moments when you suddenly found yourself alone and wishing those splashing bodies were beside you. Visibility was a negative most of the time and sucking in water from unsuspecting waves was a definite. But the positives far out weighed the challenges and when you were able to stand in the line-up next to teams from Australia and Barbados, that was a privilege and an honor. It was awesome to meet so many lifeguards from other beaches in such a fun spirited setting. The experience also allowed me to bond closer with my co-workers, seeing their strength and determination under sometimes grueling competitive pressure and there was never a lack of talent or entertainment to be found during the festivities.

Lifeguard competitions were some of the best times of my life and becoming a lifeguard also taught me to respect the ocean and it’s amazing capacity for destruction and change. It’s all fun and games until you can’t touch the bottom.

So make space in your calendar this week to come check out the excitement and thank a lifeguard- you might need them one day!