‘The highlight of the summer’: Junior lifeguards practice rescue techniques at Sunset Cliffs

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SAN DIEGO – Some junior lifeguards learned what it takes to carry out a cliff rescue Tuesday at Sunset Cliffs.

Starting in the morning, junior lifeguards were guided by San Diego Fire-Rescue lifeguards to practice critical skills, including being lowered using a rope system, learning to tie basic knots, operating kayaks and jumping from the Ocean Beach Pier. It was open to local youth aged between 7 and 17 years old.

“The fun thing about showing them some of the remedial cliff skills is some of them don’t really realize they possess hands-on skills they don’t know about,” San Diego lifeguard Douglas Smith said. “Some of them are a little higher level than some others, but that gives them the opportunity to help each other if some of them are a little bit slower to get a skill. It galvanizes them as a group and it creates camaraderie.

“As instructors, I know they enjoy that and I know the parents really enjoy that.”

When Charles Zhang joined the program, he thought it would be to monitor pools as a junior lifeguard. But for beach lifeguards, he says, “There’s a lot more to it.” Now, it’s something he’s grown to enjoy.

“It’s definitely fun,” Zhang said. “I always enjoy being in the summer and doing junior lifeguards. I think it’s like the highlight of the summer.”

“As instructors, I know they enjoy that and I know the parents really enjoy that.”

Qian Zhao, the mother of a junior lifeguard participating in Tuesday’s session, said she’s seen her son’s comfort “grow a lot” as a result of the program.

“It’s a wonderful program,” Zhao said. “I love it very much.”

More information on the San Diego Junior Lifeguard Program is available online at sandiego.gov/lifeguards/junior.

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