California Lifeguard Exchange

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Mairangi Bay SLSC Director of Lifesaving Laura Josephson and United North Piha Power Craft Officer and Patrol Captain Leif Neilson have been chosen as the two representatives heading to California, as part of the annual exchange with the California Surf Life Saving Association.

They are off to the USA on June 20 for six weeks.

Each year two lifeguards from Northern Region visit Southern California beaches for six weeks. Similarly, two lifeguards from California visit New Zealand for six weeks during January.

The exchange program has been in existence since 1969 and it has a rich tradition of exchanging professional and volunteer lifesaving techniques, training and equipment ideas. 

Laura says she is excited to be heading over to California because it will provide her with the opportunity to see a different lifeguarding structure and see how they operate on their busy beaches with full time professional staff.

"My main focus while in California is examining how they train and develop their lifeguards, leadership skills and seeing what the California Surf Life Saving Association offers to their members that New Zealand lifeguarding doesn't," she says. Laura is keen to analyse and undertake research to see if their methods will be an effective practice to adapt and offer to lifesaving in New Zealand.

Leif's focus is to implement an asset management plan for mechanical equipment, optimising ownership benefits and minimizing operational cost.

Northern Region Club Development Officer Rob Pidgeon was one of last year's recipients of the California Lifeguard Exchange. He says Laura and Leif should be prepared to put in the hard yards. 

Rob says the Californian beaches are very different to the New Zealand beach environment. Beach-goers have little or no concept of rips and water safety and as a result, lifeguards undertake hundreds of rescues a day. "They need to be ready to rescue anyone, anywhere," he says.

The pair is holding a California Lifeguard Exchange Fundraiser Quiz Night on Friday June 14 at the Marist Rugby Club in Albany, Auckland.

Tickets are $20 per person. RSVP online through their Facebook page or email