Training future lifeguards

Kristian McDonald
Kristian McDonald
Capt. Dwight Perkins
Capt. Dwight Perkins

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Many lifeguards have been busy this week, making numerous rescues in the big surf. While a number of other guards have spent their time teaching teens water safety skills.

One, to prevent more rescues and two, to prepare the island's future lifeguards for a job that is more than just a day at the beach.

Kristian McDonald spends a lot of time in the water.

"I've always loved the water, I like swimming, surfing - everything that has to do with the water," said the Moanalua teen.

Because he's in the ocean so much, Kristian has seen his share of less experienced swimmers, get in over their heads.

"You definitely see people who don't know how to swim get into trouble by going into deeper water. They end up panicking," said McDonald.

Since he would one day like to be a lifeguard, Kristian is taking part in the junior lifeguard program again.

He is just one of hundreds of kids between the ages of 13 and 17 taking part in this free summer training session at the beach.

"Its a great program for the kids in the summer to build self esteem, to test their limits and see how comfortable they are in the ocean. Then we make them more comfortable in the ocean," said Capt. Dwight Perkins with the Lifeguard Training Unit.

The junior lifeguards don't spend all their time in the water, some of their training takes place on the beach where they learn important lifesaving skills like CPR.

These young athletes, aren't trained to be a lifeguard, but they learn what it takes to guard the beaches. And this program helps prepare them for problems in and out of the water.

"We give them the skills to know what to do in an emergency," added Perkins.

It's a full week of intense training that lasts from 9-2 each day. And after all the hard work to get them into lifeguard shape, these young watermen and women have a greater appreciation for those who guard the beaches, especially during big swells like we've seen this week.

"You have to know what you are doing out there to help people. Especially when the waves are big and the conditions are rough," said McDonald.

All of the free weekly programs have space available for more to sign up. If you would like more information about the junior lifeguard program which is held throughout the summer go to