Lifeguards compete at Nissan Beach Festival

It looked like one big “Baywatch” convention at Zuma Beach as hundreds of water lovers gathered for the second annual Nissan Beach Festival Saturday and Sunday. Tower number four was teaming with local lifeguards–all tanned, toned and sporting their trademark red swimming trunks.

Morning coastal fog cleared for a day in the sun, featuring longboard surfing, paddleboard racing, body surfing and the Bud Light Volleyball Championship.

Even though the children’s swim had to be canceled due to rough 6-foot swells, it didn’t seem to dampen any spirits. “The kids really loved being in the water,” said coordinator Wendy Trollope. “Everyone had a great time and the turnout was twice as big as last year.”

But, according to Trollope, all this frolicking at sea had a serious side. “The purpose is to get kids excited about being lifeguards, getting into the water and being safe.”

She was quick to point out that there is more to being a lifeguard than kicking back and looking cool. “It takes a lot just to go to rookie school. You get clobbered in training tests and trial runs. Then you have to know CPR, first-aid, how to handle a rescue. It’s a hard job and you can find yourself in a life-threatening situation at any time.”

There were no close calls at this beach celebration. The only thing close was the competition. Tracey Crothers, Skylar Peak, Kelsey O’Donnell and Woody Lindsey were among those coming out on top in the Junior Lifeguard Competition, while Anthony Vela, George Newland, Paige Gallas and Scott Diedrich picked up first place prizes in the men and women’s divisions.

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The sponsors, meantime, considered the two-day event to be a resounding success. “It was fantastic,” said Trollope. “Now we’re ready to go on to year three.”

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