University Park lifeguards made a splash at the “Lifeguard Games,” taking home a few medals on their way. Eight representatives from Holmes Aquatic Center put their life-saving skills to the test at the regional competition in Terrell.
“I thought our pool was especially prepared and knowledgeable, but every other team was really good,” Jesuit student Brett Williams said.
The competition includes lifeguards from water parks, municipal pools, and country clubs. Each team is made up of two boys and two girls, so UP sent two — “Holmes Slices” and “UP In Here.”
During the games, guards were set up with a variety of real-life situations, such as spinal injuries and victim rescues. There were also obstacle course rounds and a fitness challenge.
“It was a lot of fun, but some parts of it were very intense,” lifeguard Olivia Donoghue said. “They tried to make it as real as possible, to give you the real-deal experience.” For their rescue mission, the teams had to handle an unconscious heat stroke victim. As a Texas guard, Donoghue had seen heat stroke many a time — but never had she seen an unconscious victim.
Other scenarios included a foot puncture, tooth loss, and head injury. Overall, the scenarios helped the guards, both new and experienced, feel prepared.
“It’s interesting to see how easily something could happen,” said Highland Park High School graduate Madisyn Miller, who claimed the challenge was surprisingly fun. “If something were to happen, I wouldn’t be as scared.”
In order to prepare, the teams trained during their weekly in-service sessions, where they would go over any possible situation. They also did one-hour practices in the mornings a week before the competition.
“There’s a lot more responsibility than I realized,” Williams said of his two seasons as a lifeguard.
Ultimately, “Holmes Slices” took first place in first aid, and “UP In Here” placed fourth in spinal injury. But for most, bonding with their fellow guards was the biggest takeaway.
“I’ve been working with a couple of the guards for years, and I just didn’t feel like I knew them as well until after the games,” Donoghue said.