The 2018 Pool Lifeguard Challenge was held on Thursday 22nd February at the HBF Stadium outdoor pool, with 21 teams competing. It was great to see a number of teams join us for the very first time this year, including Cockburn ARC who entered three teams, Leisurefit Booragoon and Geographe Leisure Centre. The event, sponsored by the Leisure Institute of WA, and facilitated by Royal Life Saving WA, has been held annually since 2007, with the aim of testing the skills of lifeguards and encouraging the continued improvement of lifeguard teams at aquatic centres across WA. 

A number of regular teams returned this year from Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre (2 teams), Fremantle Leisure Centre, City of Canning (3 teams), Beatty Park Leisure Centre (2 teams), HBF Arena (2 teams), Kwinana Recquatic, Bayswater Waves, Altone Park Leisure Centre, Adventure World (2 teams) and Geraldton Aquarena. We’re especially impressed with the teams from Geraldton and Busselton who made an extra special effort, taking the long journey to Perth and returning immediately after the competition ended in the afternoon!

It was particularly exciting to see some familiar brave faces at this year's challenge, including last year's Bravery Award winners Sarah Fuller and Anthony Dos Santos from Altone Park, and Tia Stonehill from Fremantle Leisure Centre. 

Cockburn ARC decided to take part for the first time this year as a team-building exercise. “Being a new centre, we thought we’d give it a go and enter three teams,” Karla Hurrelbrink says. “It’s good to get to know the other centres and the lifeguards and share what we all go through on an everyday basis. “It gives us a good chance to work on our fitness and test our fitness,” she adds. “Plus, it’s an opportunity to put our knowledge into practice without it being a real situation!”

It was Christelle Smith's third Pool Lifeguard Challenge, but her first with Leisurefit Booragoon. Making her debut as team captain, Christelle says the challenge is a great opportunity for lifeguards to show off their skills in the pool. "We don't usually get the chance to do that!" she says. 

The day began with a team relay and obstacle course, with the second event being a Super Lifeguard Challenge, in which teams showed their swimming, manikin tow and CPR skills. The part of the day all teams look forward to is the final challenge, which this year involved teams responding to one of three acted-out emergency scenarios: a spinal, CPR or first-aid. The teams go into a lock-down room, so they are unaware of the scenarios unfolding out on the pool deck, and no-one can ever be sure what to expect from this part of the challenge!

This year, staff from Royal Life Saving put on their best acting display, role-playing three different emergency scenarios. Each competitor randomly selected one scenario (by picking Dippy Duck out of a bucket shaken by CEO Peter Leaversuch!), which this year included a swimmer suffering a spinal injury in the pool, another swimmer falling unconscious and needing to be resuscitated, and a third suffering an asthma attack. 

The teams showed fantastic skill in their response to the incidents thrown their way, and were all willing to receive the feedback from the judges on areas where they can improve for the future. 

At the end of the day the top three teams were: Mandurah Aquatic in third place, Beatty Park Leisure Centre in second place, while Tim Hulley, Lewis Downes, Isobel Franzoni and Kieren Lawrenson from HBF Arena Team 1 took out the trophy with the highest overall score across the day’s events.)

Royal Life Saving Society WA would like to congratulate all the competing teams for their performances this year and we look forward to seeing each of them return in 2019. We’d also like to thank the Leisure Institute of WA for their continued support of the Pool Lifeguard Challenge, an invaluable event which ensures the continued development of lifeguarding in WA. We hope all competitors return to their centres with a new sense of the importance of the role they play in keeping aquatic centre patrons safe as they enjoy water activities.