The sport of lifesaving is not very well known in the county, but it is one that is becoming ever more popular and one that competitors in Mayo are good at. Over the years the Mayo Senior Lifesaving teams have won numerous national titles both in the pool and at the beach (surf ), while also having their fair share of international representatives.
Next Saturday, August 10, is the turn of the next generation of lifesavers to show what they can do, as they compete in the Regional Nipper Surf Lifesaving Championships at Silver Strand, Dugort, on Achill Island. This competition is for eight to 14-year-olds and is the second time that the Mayo Lifesaving Club has hosted the event in the last four years.
The sport of lifesaving is a series of competitive races, using the skills and rescue techniques required for beach lifeguarding including beach running, sea swimming, and board rescuing.
Since the beginning of the summer, children as young as eight years of age have attended training sessions in Mulranny, Louisburgh, and Achill, under the watchful eyes of the Mayo beach lifeguards, many of whom have competed in the sport at both national and international level.
Sara English, an international lifesaver herself, is the co-ordinator of the Mayo lifesaving training sessions. “It’s great that these kids have the opportunity to participate in the sport and that training can be provided through the club. Our aim is to educate and develop their skills so that they can be the lifesavers and lifeguards of the future,” she said. Ms English is also very appreciative of the current Mayo beach lifeguards for sharing their knowledge and experience with the next generation of lifeguards.
Michael Gavin, water safety officer with Mayo County Council, is delighted to see so many young people participating in the sport. “It is great to see kids being introduced to lifesaving sport at such a young age. It educates them about water safety generally, makes them appreciate the dangers that water can present, but very importantly, teaches them how to become competent in surviving in sea conditions, which is a desirable lifetime skill.”
The competition starts at 11am at Silver Strand, Dugort, Achill, where Mayo will compete against the other Connacht counties and Donegal. Everyone in the area is encouraged to go along for this spectacular event and show support for the Mayo lifesaving nippers.