Junior lifeguard training program grows in demand

Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 9:12 PM CDT
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SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The South Walton Fire District is hosting its annual junior lifeguard training program on the beach at Ed Walline Regional Beach Access.

It started in 2008 and has grown in popularity every year. More than 225 people applied to it this year alone and around 180 kids are currently in it.

The program is meant to teach kids about water safety and provide them with the skills they need to be confident swimmers in the gulf.

“We have the hard cans, the soft tubes, and the rescue boards, and we’re just teaching them how to use those in case of an emergency if they have to go out for someone,” said lifeguard Lydia Buckley.

Participants learn a diverse set of skills ranging from knowing how to spot a rip current to knowing how to perform a water rescue.

South Walton Beach Fire District Safety Director David Vaughan said there’s more to the program than just teaching the basics, though.

“What we’re trying to get them is water confident,” Vaughan said. “If they’re going to the beach we want them to be water confident so they can be stewards and good examples, and then hopefully they can actually end up coming to work for us as lifeguards.”

He also said building confidence is a key component to being a successful lifeguard.

“That water confidence means learning to read the water,” Vaughan said. “Learning to understand the beach environment in total. Knowing how to take care of yourself in the sun, how to read wind, how the wind affects the water.”

The June program for both age groups is full.

However, you can find more information about it on the South Walton Fire District Facebook page.

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