DEDICATED young lifesavers from North Dublin have been making big waves at a major international swimming event where they achieved a string of top times.
St John Berchman’s Lifeguard Club proved itself amongst the best in Britain and Ireland at the prestigious Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) international speed championships at the Ponds Forge International 50-metre pool in Sheffield last weekend.
Swimming, lifeguard and surfing clubs from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland took part in the championships, which bring together the best and fastest volunteer lifesavers. More than a dozen competitors from the lifesaving section of the 150-member Dublin club took part in the event, which was organised by the RLSS, an international charity dedicated to safeguarding lives in, on or near water.
St John Berchman’s Lifeguard Club was established in 1974 to provide training for local young people looking for lifeguard jobs in the leisure industry, as well as learning valuable life skills such as swimming and first aid. The club soon expanded to include a competitive section and swimming instruction for local children. Between June and September each year, members give up their time to run outdoor lifesaving classes at North Dublin beaches.
The RLSS speed championships involve young and old lifesavers competing in a number of disciplines and distances, including obstacle races, swimming relays, rope throwing and carrying manikins filled with water to simulate adult bodies. The events are based on real lifeguard techniques such as using rescue equipment, and the sport of Life Saving is recognised by the International Olympic Committee.
Winners of silver medals included David Browne and Paddy Kelly in the Individual Line Throw and manikin carry, and the male Line Throw relay team of Ciaran Miley, Andrew McGonigle, James Dempsey and David Browne achieved an impressive fourth place in the open competition, narrowly missing out on a medal by just 3/10 of a second.
The club’s Director of Swimming, Sheila Mulhair, said: “Lifesaving Sport is a great way of ensuring that the Nation’s lifeguards keep up their fitness during the winter months, in readiness for taking up duties on the beaches later in the year. This year was one of our best performances at the international speed championships and everyone was totally elated, although the swimmers came back very tired from a really hectic weekend. It was amazing to see them do so well, with personal bests recorded in several events, and three overall silver medals for the club. Other team members included Aisling Kelly, Ciara Mulhair, Cillian Spain, Conor Saunders, Kevin Mulhair, Laura Mulhair, Rachel Haskins, and Shane Kelly.
“You hear a lot these days about kids sitting at computers or hanging around the streets, but these kids train regularly each week as lifesavers.
“The Ponds Forge event brings together the very best young lifesavers, and there were teams from Ireland, England and Scotland and Wales. We were the only club from Ireland and it was a great chance to show other clubs what we can do.”