Valley Leisure Centre lifeguards make waves

Lord Mayor Cllr John Finucane with Valley lifeguards Pam Bell, Piotr Kopowski, Olivia Armstrong, Paul Johnson and Gareth Kirk (GLL).
Lord Mayor Cllr John Finucane with Valley lifeguards Pam Bell, Piotr Kopowski, Olivia Armstrong, Paul Johnson and Gareth Kirk (GLL).

Valley Leisure Centre won the top team lifeguarding championship hosted by social enterprise GLL, in partnership with Belfast City Council on August 22.

The competition, which is intended to promote swimming pool safety, involved lifeguards from council areas across Northern Ireland pitching themselves against each other in a battle of lifeguarding skills, strength and knowledge.

The highly interactive competition took place at Olympia Leisure Centre on Belfast’s Boucher Road and saw ten teams test their skills, both in and out of the pool.

Belfast lifeguard teams from Olympia, Grove, Shankill, Falls and Whiterock leisure centres competed against teams from the Valley, Sixmile, Antrim, Lisburn, Banbridge and Cascades leisure centres. The teams were scored by two independent UK lifeguarding trainers.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr John Finucane said: “It’s fantastic to see so many different teams from across Belfast and beyond taking part in the event. The service they provide is absolutely crucial in ensuring people can enjoy swimming facilities in a safe and well managed environment.

“As well as providing some healthy competition between leisure centres, today also provides the perfect opportunity for the lifeguards to showcase their skills and talents. I want to congratulate all the teams involved and encourage them to continue their great work in keeping people safe.”

GLL Regional Director Gareth Kirk commented at the event: “Lifeguarding is a crucial service in our leisure centres and we invest heavily in ensuring our lifeguards are continually tested and improving their skill sets.

“The top team event is a great way of doing that and by introducing a competitive element to it, means our teams get fired up for a bit of a friendly challenge and it makes it more fun for everyone involved.

“This is the third time we have run the competition and we are very pleased to see it go from strength to strength each year. We’ve seen that the event is a brilliant opportunity for lifeguards to learn new skills, enjoy some rivalry with other teams and create stronger and more cohesive lifeguarding teams.

“It’s a pleasure to host teams from outside of the Belfast council area and the rivalry is always good humoured. We hope to see the competition go from strength to strength each year.”

Each team is made up of four members who competed in scenarios designed to test their skills at dealing with a number of incidents including simulated CPR, first aid management and in-water rescue. These were set in both a dry environment and in the pool area.

Lifeguards were then scored on the speed in which they reacted to the scenarios and the protocols they followed in their responses.