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Lahaina junior lifeguards to compete at state competition

By Staff | Aug 2, 2018

Ocean Safety Officer Ryan Cabrera trains keiki during the 2018 Maui County Junior Lifeguard program.

LAHAINA – The 2018 Maui County Junior Lifeguard program reaches its climax this Saturday as a contingent of some 30 top scorers from the Valley Isle competition move on to the state finals at Kalapaki Beach on Kauai.

Representing the Lahaina Division, for the second consecutive year led by Ocean Safety Officer Ryan Cabrera, will be Yuna Lee, Hailey Bogar, Ryli Cherry, Maison Alexander, Mathew Iverson and Pierce Armstrong. Not surprisingly, all of the West Side team is made up of Lahaina Swim Club competitors coached by Tom Popdan.

The 2018 Junior Lifeguard program in Lahaina included six week-long training sessions held at Hanakao’o Beach Park (Canoe Beach) and D.T. Fleming Beach Park at Kapalua for students ages 12-17.

Seventy-two West Side youths participated in the highly regarded program, many of them repeat participants from previous years and several going through multiple sessions this summer.

The training includes guidance on the professionalism of a lifeguard; safety in surveillance, recognition and injury prevention; emergency action plans; ocean rescue skills and use of jet skis; and first aid, including breathing/cardiac emergencies and head, neck, and spinal injuries.

Vigorous swimming, running and multiple exercise routines complement the educational process in the program.

After the six sessions, the elite athletes from the trainings on Valley Isle beaches gathered for the Maui County District Challenge two weeks ago in Kihei.

The competition is divided into two divisions: ages 12-14 and 15-17. Events include a 1.2-mile run, 250-meter swim, run-swim-run of 100 meters each, the Iron Guard event made up of a 500-meter run, 250-meter swim and a 400-meter paddle, and a paddle board relay with five-member teams.

Now, the six Lahaina teens that shined at the district meet will once again shift into “beast mode” to represent the West Side at the Junior Lifeguard State Championships on Kauai this Saturday.

Tyler Justus, who spends his summers here on Maui with his dad and the rest of the year with grandparents in New Jersey, did not qualify for the district or state events, but he nonetheless gained a life-changing experience with Ocean Safety Officer Cabrera.

“It was amazing to see the glow coming from Tyler after the first couple of days of the training,” said Tyler’s dad, Andy Pike.

“He was invigorated, confident and happy. I really admire what Ryan was able to bring out in my son and look forward to bringing him back to the Junior Lifeguard program every year. We even brought him back for another session after the first one! Thank you, Ryan!”