Santa Barbara Lifeguard Lucas Doering (in blue) heads for the water at the start of a paddleboard race at the International Surf Rescue Challenge at Padre Island, Texas. (Jay Higgins photo)

Three Santa Barbara lifeguards were selected to a U.S. Lifesaving Association team that competed against teams from five countries at the International Surf Rescue Challenge in South Padre Island, Texas last weekend.

Charlie Franzen, Luc Doering and Roman Higgins were part of a 16-member (8 men, 8 women) U.S. squad that competed in the Youth Division (U19). There also was an Open Division. Franzen is a 2023 graduate of San Marcos and a current freshman at University of San Diego, Doering and Higgins are seniors at Santa Barbara High.

They competed against lifesaving teams from Japan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada and earned several top-five finishes over three days of competitions, also called “tests”

Higgins took first place in the Beach Flags competition on Test-Day 3 after placing fifth on the first day and second on Day 2.

Beach Flags medalists Roman Higgins (left) of Santa Barbara, and L.A. County Lifeguard Madalyn “Munchie” Price (Soquel High) celebrate with Team USA coach Jose “Joji” Abasolo after their performances. (Jay Higgins photo)

He also earned a couple of thirds in Board Rescue with partners Colin Veit and Doering, took a first and a second in the four-person Beach Run Relay and a third in the Mixed Board Rescue with partner Elizabeth Brennan.

Franzen finished second in Test 1 of the Surf Ski competition. He also took a fourth and fifth place in Oceanperson Tests, and was Team USA’s top point finisher in each test.

Franzen was part of a Rescue Tube Relay squad that came in second place and was runner-up in a Mixed Surf Relay with Elizabeth Brennan.

Doering scored a couple of third-place finishes in Mixed Board Rescue with Sae Ackerstein and Lucy Noble, respectively. He also was on a third-place Rescue Tube Relay with Franzen, Colin Veit and David McKeeman, and a second-place Mixed Taplin with Coleman Woodard, Tea Kalpakoff and Noble.

In the Youth Division final team standings, the U.S. finished second behind South Africa. In the combined Open and Youth Division team results, the U.S. came in third overall behind Australia and New Zealand. They finished ahead of South Africa, Japan and Canada.

The bi-annual International Surf Rescue Challenge was held for the first time in the United States since its inception in 1999.


Oceanperson—Test 1, 5th, Charlie Franzen; Test 3: 4th, Charles Franzen 

Beach Flags—Test 1: 5th, Roman Higgins. Test 2: 2nd, Roman Higgins; Test 3: 1, Roman Higgins

Surf Ski—Test 1: 2nd, Charles Franzen; Test 3: 3rd, Franzen

Board Race—Test 1: 5th, Higgins; Test 3: 5th, Higgins; 6th, Lucas Doering

Beach Sprint—Test 1: 4th Roman Higgins; 

Mixed Surf Relay—Test 1: 2nd, Charlie Franzen-Elizabeth Brennan

Board Rescue—Test 1: 3rd Roman Higgins-Colin Veit. Test 2: 3rd, Lucas Doering-Lars Olsen; Test 3: 3rd, Lucas Doering-Roman Higgins.

Beach Run Relay—Test 1: 3rd, Coleman Woodard, Colin Veit, Jorge Lagunes, Roman Higgins. Test 2:  2nd, Roman Higgins, Colin Veit, David McKeeman, Coleman Woodard; Test 3: 1st, Veit, McKeeman, Jorge Lagunes, Roman Higgins

Rescue Tube Relay—Test 1: 2nd, Charles Franzen, Coleman, Woodard, Colin Veit, Lars Olsen. Test 3: 3rd, Franzen, Veit, McKeeman, Doering

Mixed Board Rescue—Test 1: 3rd,Higgins-Brennan. Test 2: 3rd, Doering-Sae Ackerstein. Test 3: 3rd, Doering-Lucy Noble

Mixed Taplin—Test 1: 2nd, Charlie Franzen, Jorge Lagunes, Makenzie O’Keefe, Sae Ackerstein; Test 2: 2nd, Coleman Woodard, Lucas Doering, Tea Kalpakoff, Lucy Noble

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.