Guest blogger, Hannah Wiggins, Youth development Officer for Wessex Branch has shared with us what they got up to on their Branch Sea Swim Day.

Fun and games were afoot as Wessex Branch held its first (and hopefully one of many!) Sea Swim Day on 20th July.

Forty-four young people from across the Branch, including clubs from Bishop’s Waltham, Eastleigh, Poole, Salisbury and Totton, attended the event which was held on Sandbanks Beach, Poole. The event gave members of the clubs who normally only undertake their lifesaving activity in swimming pools the opportunity to experience how a beach lifeguard club operates and the equipment they use.

We split into four teams, each including members from each of the different clubs, to take part in a host of activity stations in the morning. We covered open water swimming skills, discovering how different it is to swim in the sea and through the waves compared to a swimming pool. This helped our lifesavers to gain the skills required for the Survive and Save Beach award. Torpedo Buoys! Introduced beach running and rescue skills using a torpedo buoy. This station attracted a great deal of interest from the general public on Sandbanks that day, as many asked if they were “just practising”.

The two other stations introduced more specialist equipment with the use of kayaks and rescue boards. These provided a completely new experience for the group. Not only how to stay on them and upright, but how they can be used to save lives. The final station was a trip out on RLSS Poole Lifeguard’s RIB “Legacy”, which gave our lifesavers an insight into how the club provides safety cover at events, open water swims etc. along the coast.

Following a picnic lunch, in their own club groups, the participants worked towards the Survive and Save Beach award – some towards Silver, others the Bronze award. We are still waiting for confirmed figures on the number of awards successfully achieved. Most importantly though we have helped raise awareness of the beach and how our lifesavers can adapt to the conditions in order to carry out safe rescues.

Wessex Branch would like to take this opportunity to say a huge “THANK YOU”. Firstly to all those who took part in the day and making it a fantastic experience! Secondly, to all the club instructors who brought their club members along. Lastly and by no means least, to RLSS Poole Lifeguard club for hosting the event. Without the great venue, your instructors, your safety cover and your fantastic sense of humour, the day could not have happened nor have been the success it was. Thank you all!

For those interested in attending a similar event in 2015, please register your interest with Hannah Wiggins, Youth Development Officer for Wessex Branch. Email [email protected]

Thanks for sharing Hannah! If you or your Branch has a story you want to share with us then email it over to [email protected] with any photos you have.