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Event serves as reminder that first aid is a lifesaver

Some athletes attending the Commonwealth Lifesavings Championships were given a cold welcome to the City of Windsor.

“It's freezing, yes,” said Marie Bennett from Kingston, Jamaica. She is one of about 175 athletes from eleven countries at the event being hosted at the Aquatic Centre.

“The downtown core is really well set up for this, on top of this being a really huge and great facility to host an elite event like this,” said Aidan Miess, project manager of Lifesaving Sport at Lifesaving Society Ontario.

The event is a sport learned for humanitarian purposes first.

“All these athletes are lifeguards first. They're trained for that purpose,” said Miess.

They are back in the pool competing for the first time since the pandemic.

“I'm actually from one of the most locked down cities in the world so it was quite hard,” said Jemma Holt of Australia. “We didn't have access to any pools or anything like that so as soon as opportunity arose to get back in the water we just jumped on that straight away.”

Lifeguard skill development took a hit during the pandemic around the world. When the pools opened, up Holt dove in head first to get back into form.

“Just really been focusing on picking up or pretending to pick up a person and tow them back to safety,” said Holt.

Holt said a rescue could involve that particular skill, “You're practicing all of your skills and then by the time it comes to having to actually save someone you'll be ready for it no matter what.”

Bennett was never a lifeguard or swimmer but a summer job a few years back changed her life. She taught swimming which led to coaching which led to teaching lifeguards.

“Then they needed a team and we only had three girls and the coach has to volunteer to be number four,” said Bennett.

Being on the Jamaican Lifesaving sport team has benefitted the country and Bennett’s family. She introduced lifeguarding to her son and daughter, “They need to know what to do in case mommy is not well so all three of us knows what to do.”

Her daughter Khavezra Harrison is happy her mom took initiative.

“We were just doing the lifeguarding to help us in the family in case of anything. Yes I fell in love with lifeguarding for the rest of my life,” said Harrison.

The Jamaican team is a big advocate of people getting their first aid training.

“I know how to help a baby,” said Lauren Hall. “I know how to stop a bleeding. If my grandma slips and falls, I know how to help her. Stuff like that. It's not just in water. It’s good to know.” Top Stories

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