Ten local kids competed in the U.S. Lifesaving Association's Southeast Regional Championships on Saturday, July 28.
As 13-year-old Lucy Noble ran toward the ocean at Flagler Beach, orange rescue buoy in hand, her little sister Matilda Noble, 10, watched from the shore.
For the second year, Lucy competed in the U.S. Lifesaving Southeast Regional Junior Lifesaving Championships, which was held Saturday, July 28, at Flagler Beach. Ten Flagler Beach junior lifeguards — six girls and four boys — participated.
Lucy started swimming competitively at age 7, and her sister followed suit, starting at age 4.
“It feels really good,” Lucy said about Matilda following in her footsteps. “Hopefully she’ll make it to states, like I did, one day. I hope she does good at nationals next year.”
This was Matilda’s first year participating in the competition. She said she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up, but before that she wants to work as a summer lifeguard.
In the rescue relay, which is the event closest to an actual lifesaving operation, Matilda was paired with Aurora Purdy, a 9-year-old Palm Coast resident.
“In the beginning, I felt a little nervous, so I didn’t really believe in myself,” Aurora said.
It was her second year competing in the USLA championship, but as the day went on, she got more comfortable and confident with Matilda by her side.
Lifeguarding runs in Aurora’s blood. Her mother is the swim coach at Matanzas High School and was formerly a lifeguard herself.
“I saw all my mom’s medals, and I was like, ‘Mom, can I try this?’” Aurora said.
She said she either wants to be a lifeguard or a marine biologist when she gets older, because of “all of the world underwater that’s never been discovered before.”
Lucy was paired up with Mia Nilsen, a 12-year-old Flagler Beach resident, for the rescue relay.
This was Mia’s second year participating in the championship. But the pair said swimming together outside of the competition keeps them in sync.
“If you’re not synchronized, and you’re not working together as a good team, then I think it’s pretty hard.”
The USLA National Championships will be in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Aug. 8 for the Junior Lifeguard and U19 Championships and Aug. 9-11 for the Lifeguard Championships.