Hundreds of Hawaii’s best young swimmers gathered for some friendly competition Saturday.
The annual Junior Lifeguard State Championship took place at Ala Moana Regional Park. The competition included a paddle-board relay and 500-meter run.
The Junior Lifeguard Program is free and open to all youth ages 12-17 years old. Thousands participate each year.
“The number-one thing to do here on the islands is go to the beach,” said Kaiulani Bowers, the program’s lead instructor at Ala Moana. “Not only are we teaching them ocean safety, but we’re giving them confidence. We’re teaching them awareness. They can apply it at the beach and anywhere they go.”
“The junior lifeguard program around the state is probably one of our best programs for each county,” said Kalani Vierra, Kauai Ocean Safety Division supervisor. “We call our junior lifeguards force multipliers, because they’ll be at beaches that we don’t have lifeguards.”
The Junior Lifeguard Program is sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
The championship comes as the state celebrates 100 years of lifeguards in the islands.