Most schools are still in session for one more week, so next weekend really marks the beginning of the full summer season. And it will start with a bang, since the 30th annual American Institute of Architects Sandcastle Competition will be held Saturday. This year we expect over 60 teams to compete for the coveted “Golden Bucket Award”. If you’re like me and hate crowds, the insider tip is to go down Sunday morning early. We have security Saturday night which allows for an additional day to view these works of art.
Last week over 70 lifeguards participated in the 28th annual “Night Swim” followed by a complimentary meal at the Float. Not only is it the final physical challenge for the lifeguard candidates, but the whole staff jumps in with them. We rotate the person who designs the course so it’s different each year. This year was the brainchild of Supervisor Lauren Hollaway, and she was especially cruel.
It started at 27th with a run to 17th and back. We then grabbed fins, swam from 27th around the Pleasure Pier to 24th, jumped off the groin and swam back around the Pleasure Pier against the current. From there a run to 37th, where we got on rescue boards and paddled to 27th. And it didn’t stop there. After running the groin we jumped off the rocks again and swam without fins around the Pleasure Pier to 24th and made a final run back to 27th. The 2 miles of swimming, 3 miles of running, and 1 mile of paddling were made even tougher by 4 foot surf, strong current, and some serious competition. All of our guards meet a really high swimming fitness requirement, but we have some that are amazing athletes. Few compare to the two that dominated the race. John Obrien is a lifetime swimmer, triathlete, and Cross Fit instructor. Joe Cerdas ran track, is a great surfer, and is the undisputed champion of stand up paddle (SUP) racing in Texas- he hasn’t lost a race in 4 years. Both compete regularly in Lifeguard Sport, which includes swimming, running, rescue board racing, and surf ski (like a long ocean kayak).
The two went head to head for an hour and twenty minutes. John led most of the way with his superior swimming ability, until Joe used his intimate knowledge of currents to get close to him on the paddle. Finally, at the very end of the final swim, Joe squeaked by for his second victory in a row. I was pleased at 50 years of age to pull off a 4th place. Everyone was a champion and finished the course, with the final finishers coming in after 2 1/2 hours of torture.
The great thing about finishing an event like this is that, once they get through it, the guards know to the core of their being that they can physically and mentally handle way more than they ever imagined.
They will need that confidence for what lays ahead.