Cheers to “a banner year”

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The University of Waterloo’s Lifesaving Club continued an excellent season by winning first place at the Canadian Lifeguard Emergency Response Championships at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax on May 9–11. The three teams sent by the university placed third, fourth, and sixth overall in the field of 18 through consistently strong performances.


The event consists of three team competitions: priority assessment, first aid, and water rescue, scored together as a “triathlon”. Coed teams of four lifeguards compete to accrue the most points by quickly performing lifesaving activities within proper procedure in front of a judging panel.


The priority assessment event involves a simulated multi-casualty event, where competitors must determine which victims to assist first, and how to help them. First aid requires that teams assist multiple victims within proper first aid procedure in a timely manner. Finally, the water rescue event simulates guarding at a pool, in which teams must properly respond to every situation that arises.


Team Starfish, consisting of Ryan Foster, Emily Campbell, Rachel Kennedy, and Natalie Ramsay, placed third in the triathlon, finishing fourth in water rescue, second in priority assessment, and tying for seventh in first aid. Team Power Surge’s Adrian Cossu, Laura Allison, Allie Brown, and Steven Tang were right behind in fourth place with seventh, third, and sixth place finishes in water rescue, first aid, and priority assessment, respectively. Derek Hooey, Andrew Walker, Meghan McGrath, and Caroline Illman made up Team Bathroom Break, who finished sixth overall after placing fifth in water rescue and first aid and eighth in priority assessment.


There are three types of competitions in the world of Canadian lifesaving: lifeguarding, pool lifesaving, and surf lifesaving. The latter two revolve around the administration of proper lifesaving techniques, while the first involves more strategic work.


“We’ve just recently started competing in all three. We used to be predominantly just a lifeguard club, it’s where we’re most successful, where we built our club,” said Adrian Cossu, Lifesaving Club president.


The Lifesaving Club has had an extremely successful year in competition, capping off a strong few years competing against other universities and private clubs. In March, the club dominated the Ontario University Lifeguard Championships, which clinched them first place in the season-long University League series. Later that month, the club placed third at the Ontario Pool Lifesaving Championships, which mixes lifesaving techniques with swimming competitions.


The club has a busy practice schedule to keep their competitive edge. “We swim three to four times a week with a swim coach, and we practise emergency response [after swim practice] twice a week … In the summer we move into our waterfront season, and we practise every day … on [Laurel Creek Lake] two times a week,” Cossu said. “We don’t do a lot of swimming [at Laurel Creek],” he added, “We’re on top of our craft for most of it. If we want to do open water swimming, we’ll go down to Guelph Lake. It’s fine for what we’re doing — for our paddling and paddleboarding — too many weeds, and a lot of geese.”


“It’s been a banner year for us … This is one of the best years for our club. This is the first time we’ve even won a national championship,” said Cossu.