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Apr 01 2016

Volunteer lifeguards in SayulitaSayulita is fortunate to have a group of dedicated individuals who volunteer their time to improve the beach safety of this town. A two-day lifeguard training took place last month, sponsored by Pro Sayulita and Firefighters Crossing Borders, training all of Sayulita’s 28 volunteer lifeguards in water rescue, universal emergency hand signals, CPR, and AED (defibrillator). Many of these local volunteer lifeguards, including Geovani Perez, owner of Sayulita Surf Company, spent their days on the beach during Semana Santa, keeping a watchful eye on the water. Due to their hard work and commitment, 25 people were rescued over the weeklong holiday, and a lost 3-year-old girl was found!

Even before this last lifeguard training, Geovani, and his surf instructors, were dedicated to rescuing those in need. In fact, Sayulita Surf Company rescued 68 people in 2015. “We do it because we want to help the community, while also making people aware of the dangers of the ocean. The problem is that inexperienced swimmers get in the water, unaware of the riptide, and they don’t know how to handle the conditions of the swell when they are bigger. We want to teach future generations that when you go to the beach, talk to the lifeguards, and figure out the water conditions before going in,” shared Geovani.

If you spent anytime on the North side beach in Sayulita during Semana Santa, you likely saw the volunteer lifeguards in their long-sleeved yellow shirts with the red band and the word, Guardavidas, (lifeguards), written across the front. Aside from Geovani, Josue Alvarez, Neftali Gomez, Alan Gonzalez, Oliver Whitfield, Honoreo Montes, Marcelo Cabantoy, Darsie Culbeck, and Tom Rupert, were all manning the beach.

Volunteer lifeguards in SayulitaWhen asked what it feels like to hit the water to rescue someone, Geovani said, “Pretty much my only thought is to save his or her life. I’m pretty much fearless because I have learned to surf big waves, and to hold my breath for a period of time. I’ve also been trained in lifeguarding skills, so I’m confident. The reality for me is that Sayulita isn’t a sleepy little town anymore. Most people in the surf and paddle industry know the water and the conditions, and also act as lifeguards.”

Geovani’s passion for saving lives doesn’t stop there, “My goal is to encourage the Bahia de Banderas community, and the government, to hire local surfers for paid positions as lifeguards. A lot of the paid lifeguards come from inland and aren’t experienced with the conditions of the ocean here.”

Geovani, and Janice Parker, a member of Pro Sayulita, whose main focus is beach safety, have been working together for the betterment of the entire community. And both parties are extremely happy with the success over Semana Santa. “Our volunteers rescued 25 people, 9 of them simultaneously! They also found a lost 3-year-old girl who had been missing for 4 hours from the main beach. She had wandered away from her family, crossed the river, and was found at the very end of the north beach. She was handed over to one of our volunteers wearing his yellow shirt because ‘he looked official!’ That one thing is worth every minute I have spent on this project over the past four years! It makes me so proud of our volunteers and brings tears to my eyes every time I think of them,” exclaimed Janice. 

To help with the success of this beach safety program, donations are needed for a variety of things, such as rescue floats, building a lifeguard platform, rash guards for the volunteers, additional trainings, and keeping the volunteers hydrated and fed. The best way to donate is to go to the Pro Sayulita website and write “Bahia Surf Rescue” in the comments area. Donations can also be made at the Sayulita Surf Company beach location in front of Camaron’s or by reaching out to Geovani here.