By Matt Ouellett
When Johnathan Wyatt left the University of Ottawa, he also left behind his position as president of his school’s lifesaving club, a team that won three University Lifeguarding Championships.
Ryerson didn’t have a lifesaving club, so when Wyatt started one last year, the club unofficially represented Ryerson at one meet at the University of Ottawa, where Wyatt took gold in first aid. This season the team is now an officially recognized sports club and they will compete in the Ontario University Lifesaving League.
“This is the first year that Ryerson has had an official lifesaving club recognized by the athletics department; though there were students from the school competing together last year,” said Wyatt. “In our first year we had one team attend a competition organized by the University of Ottawa, where a Ryerson team member won the individual first aid event.”
Wyatt says the competitive aspect of the lifesaving club is where lifeguards and lifesavers (volunteer or amateur lifeguards) compete in events that test their physical fitness and emergency response skills. Most events are competed in teams of two or four and are split into physical endurance and emergency response events. The physical side includes relay races, while the emergency response events are where Lifeguards are paired with a mock victim and a judge who grades their ability to treat their victim.
According to Wyatt, the sport is best for athletes who are good at managing difficult situations and want something new or different; it’s also a great way for lifeguards to keep in shape during the school year.
“Students who lifeguard in the summer months but don’t have the time in their schedule to work during the school year can use this club a way to keep their skills sharp without having to commit to an employer’s schedule.”
The lifesaving club of Ryerson also advocates and generates awareness for the global drowning prevention mission. This initiative manifests itself in the World Conference on Drowning Prevention (WCDP) held from Nov. 4-6 in Penang, Malaysia. The conference is in partnership with the International Lifesaving Federation (ILS) and aims to educate those in attendance on drowning prevention.
For Wyatt, the most important aspects to succeed in the lifesaving club is communication and teamwork, and having the ability to always be in a position to positively contribute to the group. The club is very much a team sport, and according to Wyatt the individual performance isn’t what matters. And while communication is important to the success of most team sports, communication with your peers in the lifesaving club can be the difference between life and death in a real world situation.