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Santa Barbara Junior Lifeguards Program Marks 45th Year of Fun, Fitness and Life Skills

The City of Santa Barbara’s Junior Lifeguards program will kick off its 45th year this June, continuing in its tradition of helping youth ages 9 to 17 build physical fitness and develop water safety skills. The program is also known for its many opportunities to have fun, make new friends, and build teamwork and leadership skills.

“The Santa Barbara Junior Lifeguards program is an all-around fun program, and the best value for money in our area,” said Rich Hanna, who has led the City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department’s aquatics program for the past 11 years. “Our Junior Lifeguards participants get to network with local peers in a way that doesn’t often happen during the school year because of the various school districts, and kids come out of the program with newfound friendships and the ability to work well in teams. The combination of the physical fitness aspect and the water safety skills they acquire serve them well living here in Santa Barbara, a truly fitness-first and aquatics-minded community.”

Participants in the city’s Junior Lifeguards program must pass a swim test to make sure their swimming skills are strong enough get them through the program — this year’s swim test is scheduled for May 10. Once the seven-week program begins June 23, participants will take part in invigorating daily workouts, and learn water safety, first aid and surf lifesaving skills. Marine education and friendly lifeguard competitions are also major components of the junior lifeguard program.

Although the city’s Junior Lifeguards program does very well in competitions, the program’s main components are fun and team building. The program also helps to set participants up for success later in life, and many stay with Junior Lifeguards for years, moving on to become instructor’s aides and, later, instructors.

“I wouldn't trade anything in the world for the dedication, commitment, hard work and self-motivation I have learned through my experience at SB Junior Lifeguards over the last eight summers,” said Jess Gaffney, one of the program’s instructors who started out as a program participant. “From being a participant to an instructor aide to an instructor it has been the best, most fun way to spend my summers while building my character and work ethic through teamwork and responsibility.”

Phil Faulding, a former Junior Lifeguards participant who is now a firefighter with the Santa Barbara Fire Department, spoke similarly highly of his experience. Junior Lifeguards “was the foundation for a successful career for me,” Faulding said. “Our instructors taught us about teamwork, responsibility, water safety, and many other great life lessons that I still use today on a daily basis.”

To sign up for Junior Lifeguards as a returning participant, click here. To find out more about joining as a new participant, to sign up for the swim test or to let city staff help you with any other questions, please call 805.897.2680.

The swim test for new participants will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 10 at Los Baños Pool, 401 Shoreline Drive, with check in at 1:30 p.m.

Parents’ Night will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 21 at Chase Palm Park Center, 236 E. Cabrillo Blvd.

The City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department offers a wide range of parks, facilities and programs designed to serve the needs of the community. The department’s award-winning recreation program was founded in 1924 and has grown to include sports leagues for all ages, 15 community and recreation facilities, aquatics and tennis facilities, summer camps, afterschool programs, dance classes, and special events. The aquatics program, based at the historic Cabrillo Bathhouse, offers youth summer camps and swimming and volleyball lessons and activities for all ages, including Junior Lifeguards and community lifeguard and water safety instructor certification courses.

Click here for more information on the department.

— Summers Case is a marketing coordinator for the City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department.

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