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Old sport making waves in Windsor, Ont.

Lifesaving sport has been around since the turn of the 20th century.

“It's actually a recognized Olympic sport,” said Cynthia Cakebread, manager of recreation and culture for the Town of Essex.

Lifesaving sport is recognized by the International Olympic Committee, but is not in the Olympic program. The top lifeguards in Canada will be in the city this weekend for the Pool Lifesaving National Championships.

“They have events where the competitors will dive underneath obstacles underneath the water,” said Aiden Miess, project manager for Lifesaving Society of Ontario. “There's events where they're towing mannequins with a rescue tube at the surface of the water.”

“One of the harder events is the rescue medley,” added Zak Kolasa, who is a competitor for the Essex lifesaving team. “It's got a 20 metre underwater swim in the middle of the race.”

Kolasa added that having the event hosted in Windsor is a big step, and told CTV News Windsor, “It's the first time a competition of this level is coming to our area so it's really nice to see that.”

The meet begins on Saturday at the aquatic centre, bringing 175 competitors from across Canada between the ages of 15 and 75.

“It's a pretty rounded event nationally,” said Cakebread. “Some of them will be chosen to go to the international events in the coming two years.”

The team will be named at a banquet Sunday evening after the event.

“Considerations will also be made for the world team next year,” added Miess.

This weekend’s competition will serve as a tune up for the Commonwealth Championships in Windsor in September.

“Windsor won because of the way the downtown core is set up,” said Miess. “That pool is a perfect location with hotels nearby. There’s an infrastructure down there that helps us bring in volunteers locally. That pool is a state of the art facility to run international meets.”

Like the Firefighter Combat Challenge, lifesaving sport is one of only a few that started off as a life skill.

“It's not just the fastest swimmers that do well at these events,” Cakebread pointed out. “The technical participants who are fast will do the best.”

The events takes place Saturday and Sunday between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free to watch. Top Stories

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