Aug. 15, sprinting into action with lifesaving buoys, rescue boards, swim caps and dazzling speed.
But this was no real-life mass ocean rescue. The display was all part of the annual Ron Trenton Memorial Lifeguard Relays — a public contest putting rescue skills and team cooperation to the test while invigorating San Diego’s lifeguards with a friendly competition among brethren.
Now in its 59th year, the relays drew scores of lifeguards and spectators from the city’s respective zones for the sunset showdown: Northern Division (representing La Jolla-area beaches); Central Division (South Mission Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and north Pacific Beach); Southern Division (Ocean Beach, Point Loma and Mission Bay); and members of the San Diego Lifeguard Services’ Boating Safety Division.
The relays included 12 legs demonstrating the different rescue techniques used in ocean rescues: running, swimming, paddle-rescue boarding and landline rescue.
This year saw each division take, and then lose the lead over the course of the hour-long relay race in what many observers crowned the tightest, most competitive lifeguard relays in recent memory.
Ultimately, the Central Division displayed the most depth. Placing second was the Northern Division, followed by the Southern Division and finally the Boating Safety Unit.
The win for the Central Division marked a second-straight victory over their counterparts. The Northern Division held the relays crown in 2010.
According to lifeguard officials, the relays serve three general purposes:
• motivation for lifeguards to fine-tune their rescue skills and athleticism;
• a means to blow off steam after a stressful summer; and
• an opportunity to showcase various rescue techniques to the public.
The annual relays are named after veteran lifeguard and long time Northern Division team captain Ronald B. Trenton, who was lost at sea while piloting his private plane from Catalina Island to San Diego in 1997.