Caitlyn Fowler has found a unique way of combining her love of open water swimming with her desire to become a waterfront lifeguard, and it’s taking the 14-year old to Quebec this weekend to compete in the Canadian Surf Lifesaving Championships.
The Winskill Dolphins member discovered the lifesaving sport through competitive swimming friend Abigail Skinder last summer and was immediately taken with the sport.
“Around that time I had been watching some shows about lifesaving on Bondi Beach in Australia,” shares Fowler, “and what I experienced on the beach that first day of lifesaving camp brought those shows to mind. It was exhilarating!”
The sport of lifesaving is the only known sport in the world where participants first learn the skills for humanitarian purposes only to later use them in competition. Skills on the beach include surfski paddling, prone paddle boarding, ocean swimming and beach running. Competitors also learn to work as a team to conduct a successful rescue.
For the past month, Fowler has been travelling to Vancouver’s Locarno Beach to hone these skills. Now a small group of athletes from the Pacific Swim Academy’s lifesaving sport club are about to make history as the first junior team from B.C. to compete in the Canadian Surf Lifesaving Championships that get underway on Friday.
The athletes are following in the footsteps of former senior national team members including Shannon Bell, Anita Chevalier and James Thesiger, all of whom have been helping this next generation develop their lifesaving skills.
Fowler will be joined in Lac-Simon by sisters Abigail and Anna-Marie Skinder, as well as Andrew Naus and coach Phil Skinder.
By challenging themselves against the best lifesaving athletes in the country the four teens aim to return as ambassadors focused on reigniting lifesaving sport in B.C. while encouraging other youngsters to consider lifesaving and swim instruction as a worthwhile pursuit.
But for now the local athlete’s attention is focused on representing her team, community and province to the best of her ability while in Quebec.
“I have no idea what the competition will be like,” muses Fowler, “but hopefully all my open water swimming experience will put me in a strong position to do well.”
For Fowler, the highlight will be the Oceanwoman event.
“Think triathlon, but featuring the disciplines of open water swimming, surfski paddling and prone paddle boarding,” she added. “I can’t wait to see how all my preparation will come together for this cool event!”