Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) lifeguards participated as members of the 2018 California Lifesaving Team, along with a diverse group of elite athletes from various California lifeguard agencies, in the 50-year golden anniversary of Wieland Shield, a surf lifesaving competition held in Victoria, Australia, from January 10-13, 2018.
The California Lifesaving Team competed over three days against Surf Lifesaving Victoria in events that featured important ocean lifesaving skills, including ocean swimming, running and rescue board races. The California team fell short in an upset with the strong Victoria team. Victoria 71, California 65.
Wieland Shield began in 1967, after the success of the surf-racing exhibition events in the 1956 summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Beyond the friendly competition, the event provides an opportunity for an educational exchange in subjects such as coastal lifesaving principles, emergency operations and public education.
Two-time Olympian and LACoFD Ocean Lifeguard Azad Al-barazi and Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Jeff Hart took time out to support Lifesaving Victoria’s outreach efforts to teach refugees from Iraq and Syria about ocean safety. The agency plans to host 180 group activities a year to bring refugees to the beach and teach them about rip currents and water safety, and help guide them through education and career goals.
“I’m glad that I got to be a part of it. It was a really rewarding experience,” said Hart who especially enjoyed sharing his ocean safety expertise with the refugees, and was impacted by learning the reality of the dangerous situations they narrowly escaped in their home countries.
LACoFD lifeguards also held a Q&A session about the lifesaving services they provide in California and a training event with the “nippers” — a group of young aspiring lifeguards.
Congratulations to all of the lifeguards that represented the Department so well!
Lifeguard Rescue Boat Captain Jay Butki
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Jose Abasolo
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Jeff Hart
Ocean Lifeguard Azad Al-barazi
Ocean Lifeguard Coral Berry
Ocean Lifeguard Ryan Bullock
Ocean Lifeguard Kelsey Cummings
Ocean Lifeguard Ryan Makuta
Ocean Lifeguard Jake Miller
Ocean Lifeguard Jenna Solberg