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Saving lives can be fun, games, too

Laguna's Scott Diederich, a professional lifeguard in the city since 1991, will compete in the National Lifeguard Championships..

August 06, 2010|By Mike Sciacca, michael.sciacca@latimes.com
  • Longtime Laguna Beach lifeguard Scott Diederich will focus his attention from beach watch to the sprint board as he competes in the US National Lifeguard Championships in Huntington Beach this weekend.
Longtime Laguna Beach lifeguard Scott Diederich will… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

When the United States Lifesaving Assn. National Lifeguard Championships get underway this week, Scott Diederich will be wearing the kelly green and white cap that is representative of the Laguna Beach Lifeguard Assn.

Diederich, a seasoned competitor in the annual event, is among a few Laguna Beach athletes who will join more than 1,000 lifeguards and junior lifeguards from across the country at the three-day event that began Thursday, continues today and concludes Saturday at Huntington State Beach at Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway.

"It's a great competition," said Diederich, 44, a full-time professional lifeguard for Laguna Beach since 1991. He has been with the department either as a full-time or seasonal lifeguard since 1982.

"The events in this competition reflect some part of our job, ranging from ocean surf swim races to dory boat races, and everything in between," he said. "Ocean surf racing at the professional lifeguard level really does reflect the competitive nature of the job."

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The competition is hosted by the Huntington State Beach Lifeguard Assn.

"We are excited to be the host of the premiere lifeguard event in the country," said Mike Beuerlein, Marine Safety Lieutenant for the city of Huntington Beach and region president of the California Surf Lifesaving Assn. "This event gives the lifeguards competing the chance to showcase the talents that they use on a daily basis to save lives. These men and women are premiere athletes, Olympic-type of athletes. Although this is a competition, this is three days for them to go out and have fun."

The event is taking place just a few blocks south of the Huntington Beach Pier, site of the U.S. Open of Surfing.

"It's definitely a first for that," Beuerlein said of the two events taking place simultaneously. "The stars haven't aligned like this before."

Professional lifeguards ranging in age from 17 to 75, and Junior lifeguards ages 9 to 17, will compete in both water and beach course events that highlight their lifesaving skills. Events include surf swims, beach runs, surf boats and paddleboards. Highlights include the Landline Rescue Relay, Ironman and Ironwoman events and Beach Flags, a competition dubbed, "the fastest event on sand."

The Lifeguard Men and Women and team divisions compete today and Saturday. Competition events start at 8 a.m. and run until the end of the day both days.

The Junior lifeguards competed Thursday.

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