Chile Lifeguard Exchange 2016

Posted on: October 28th, 2015 by Henry Reyes No Comments


Get ready for an adventure! 2016 marks the fourth year that Guardavidas SEAL has hosted ISLA guards in Chile. This exchange is all about exploring the different regions of Chile, hanging with “Big Boss” Claudio, eating Mariscos for breakfast, teaching and learning new rescue techniques, and sharing life with new Chilean friends. Highlights of this 2 1/2 week whirl wind include coordinating and lifeguarding the Pucon Ironman and exploring the Lakes Region of Chile, visiting the Kraken Lifeguard School for at risk youth in Valparaiso, and living for a week in the Lifeguard House with the Guardavidas SEAL in Tongoy. Check out the details below, and apply quickly!

Chile Lifeguard ExchangeEXCHANGE DATES:

January 4th – January 22nd 2016

EXCHANGE ITINERARY(Subject to change)

Oct 30: Exchange Application Opens
Nov 13: Exchange Application Closes
Nov 23: Exchange Candidates Announced

Jan 4: Travel Day, Arrive in Santiago
Jan 5: Explore Santiago
Jan 6: Travel to Valparaiso, Visit Guardavidas Kraken School
Jan 7: Travel to Pucón, Lakes Region
Jan 8- 10: Iron Man Prep/ Pucón Exploration
Jan 11: Travel to La Serena/Tongoy
Jan 12-20:Lifeguard with Guardavidas Seal
Jan 21: Travel back to Santiago.
Jan 22: Travel Home, or onward on your own!
Tongoy Beach Chile
ISLA Donation: US$1,000
Chilean Entrance Fee: US$160 (For U.S. Citizens, Varies by country)
Airfare to Santiago de Chile: Varies


  • Lodging for the duration of the project
  • Meals during Volunteer Lifeguard Portions (Approximately 1/3 of the trip)
  • In country transportation
  • 1 Year ISLA Membership
  • International travelers insurance for the duration of the project
  • Full ISLA Uniform
  • Equipment Donation

Note: Priority will be given to applicants who are able to understand and speak Spanish fluently.


Lifeguards Without Borders Announces Dr. Martin Hedstrom III Memorial Scholarship Winners

Posted on: October 28th, 2015 by Henry Reyes No Comments

Earlier this month our friends at Lifeguards Without Borders announced the individuals that embody the spirt & values of their Co-Founder Dr. Martin Hedstrom.

William KoonWilliam Koon 
has travelled the world to bring access to emergency medicine and professional rescue to low and middle-income countries. He has trained lifeguards in many developing nations, including the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Mexico, and delivered a Congressional address at the U.S. Capitol regarding an online tracker for international drowning incidents developed with ISLA. He is pursuing a Masters in Public Health at the University of Washington.

Trevor McDonalsTrevor MacDonald recognizes the scarcity of research that has been conducted within the field of open water lifesaving and aims to do something about it. His Masters thesis at California State University Los Angeles is titled “Strategic Assessments as a Lifesaving Tool: An Examination of Expectancy Violation and Strategic Assessments as it Relates to Marine Safety” and aims to collect more data about how California lifeguards parse through large crowds and determine which bathers require closer attention. As a 10 year veteran Huntington Beach lifeguard, it’s a subject he’s more than qualified to tackle.


Andre Adam

Andre Adam is a lifesaver out of Hot Water Beach, New Zealand, known for being one of the most dangerous beaches in the country. The nature of his rescue work there inspired him to pursue medicine at Otego University where he has earned top honors and two commendations from the Dean for high marks and work ethic.
Da Quecye Swain

Da’Quecye Swain‘s survived drowning experience inspired him to become a lifesaver. He was recently able to return the favor when he performed a double rescue on two brothers who had gone beyond their depth. He is studying communications at Baldwin Wallace University with a triple minor in Politics, Legal studies and Public Relations
Erin Cole

Erin Cole is getting over the heartbreak of leaving her beloved Sonoma County lifeguarding gig for UC San Diego’s halls of academia. Erin spent many years as a junior lifeguard counselor and lifeguard supervisor at Sonoma and will use her degree to continue drowning prevention and water safety education with young people.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to everyone who applied, it is so cool to see folks from so many different backgrounds and locations interested in using their knowledge and skills to help decrease the global burden of drowning.

The $1,500 Project Grant winners will be announced later (Applications are due December 1, 2016). Keep an eye out for applications for next year’s individual scholarships.

Thanks for your support!
Andrew Schmidt, DO, MPH
Director, Lifeguards Without Borders


About Dr. Martin Hedstrom:  Martin was an ocean rescue lifeguard in Jacksonville Beach, Florida before completing medical school in the Dominican Republic. He was a charter member of Lifeguards Without Borders and was dedicated to community service and drowning prevention. More importantly, he was an adventurous, outgoing, all-around awesome guy that was a close friend and brother to us all. He was a best friend to everyone he met, and gave everyone of us stories upon stories to tell of our travels, rescues, and adventures. He was a family man and had 3 children with his wonderful wife. Unfortunately, while his wife was pregnant with their third child, Martin’s life was cut short when he died unexpectedly while undergoing cardiac surgery.

Purpose of the Scholarships: To seek out and support individuals and/or organizations with projects that embody the values of the late Dr Martin Hedstrom. These projects should put talents and resources to use reducing the global burden of fatal and non-fatal drowning, with an emphasis on prevention, public health, and sustainable development.

Project Indonesia 2016

Posted on: September 20th, 2015 by Henry Reyes No Comments

Visit the World’s Largest archipelago…Indonesia!

Don’t miss out as ISLA & Lifeguards Without Borders embark on their 1st project in Indonesia! With thousands of square miles of coastline, the splendors of Indonesia are as many as its countless islands.

We’ll arrive and discover Jakarta, a huge sprawling metropolis and Indonesia’s capital located on the northern coast of Java, where the team will meet up for a day of exploration in this dynamic city. The following morning, we will greet our friends from Surf Lifesaving Pangandaran who will be transporting us to Pangandaran Beach, West Java, in preparation for our 3-day ISLA Basic Open Water Course.

In Pangandaran we’ll meet our ISLA course participants and learn about Indonesia’s beaches, operational sites and lifeguarding resources to share ideas and techniques. Between training courses in Pangandaran, we’ll be sure to wander the fine sand beaches and journey through this remote town of beach resorts and lush natural park wonders.

On our final day in Pangandaran, the team will take some time to explore the best kept secret of Pangandaran, “a piece of heaven on earth” known as Green Canyon.

You will meet lifelong friends, experience the beauty of Indonesia, and have the adventure of a life-time!
lifeguard balawista

Tentative Project Itinerary

January 3, 2016: Arrive at Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia (CGK)

January 4, 2016: Travel to Pangandaran Beach & Prep for Training Course

January 5, 2016: ISLA Open Water Training Course: Day 1

January 6, 2016: ISLA Open Water Training Course: Day 2

January 7, 2016: ISLA Open Water Training Course: Day 3

January 8, 2016: Cascading Tour of Green Canyon

January 9, 2016: Travel back to Jakarta

January 10, 2016: Depart from Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia (CGK)

pangandaran lifeguard

Pre-Project Schedule

October 9, 2015: Project Indonesia Applications Close

October 12, 2015: Selected Volunteers Notified

October 16, 2015: $100 non-refundable deposit and airfare purchase due

November 20, 2015: $750 non-refundable project donation due

Green Canyon


ISLA Project Donation: $850 USD
Indonesia Entrance Fee: None (for U.S. Citizens, may vary by country)
Airfare: Varies*

*Each volunteer will be responsible for their own airfare to Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CGK) in Jakarta, Indonesia. Round trip airfare from Los Angeles, CA (LAX) is approximately . $900-1,300. The $850.00 donation will cover housing, most food, ground transport, uniform, and equipment donations for the project. Tour entrance admissions in Indonesia is also covered with this donation.


      • Lodging for the duration of the project
      • Meals during Volunteer Lifeguard Portions (approximately ½ the trip)
      • In country transportation
      • 1 Year ISLA Membership
      • International Travelers Insurance for the duration of the project
      • Full ISLA Uniform
      • Equipment Donation


Project Nicaragua: Semana Santa 2015 Recap

Posted on: August 26th, 2015 by Henry Reyes No Comments


We here at ISLA are very happy to have just completed our sixth Semana Santa volunteering in Nicaragua. The Project was a great success, but it wouldn’t have been as successful without the help from our partners at Lifeguards Without Borders who oversaw the medical and scientific research component of the Project. We had 17 volunteers with us that included individuals from California, Florida, North and South Carolina, Massachusetts, the Dominican Republic, and Australia. Our volunteers worked at three different beaches (La Boquita, Jiquilillo, & Poneloya) spread across the entirety of the country’s pacific coast. It was quite an adventure and we were very busy during the four day Holiday weekend. Though the beach crowds had still not recovered from last years seismic scares (there was also a small earthquake during the Holiday this year) there was plenty of work to be done.

Here are the Project Nicaragua 2015 Stats:

  • 17 ISLA Volunteers
  • 840 Preventions
  • 43 Rescues
  • 28 Medical calls
  • 820 Total Hours Guarded (including CRN members on our teams)

Lifeguard Tower Nicaragua

Some highlights of the trip included: a large abandoned sailboat coming ashore in the middle of the night and consequently causing a major hazard with the tide the next day, broken bones due to shore break waves, and successful resuscitation of drowning victims on the beach. No drowning deaths were recorded at any of the beaches where our ISLA volunteers were stationed. ISLA veteran and “C” Team (jiquillo) Leader Dave Wager said: “To be able to share a life changing experience with someone makes you more than friends…it makes you family. For me that’s what ISLA is all about. Expanding your lifesaving family!”

Great job ISLA Guards!!! This year’s Project Nicaragua volunteers were:

Chris Angelotti – Oceanside, CA
Donny Constransitch – North Myrtle Beach Ocean Rescue, SC
Nicole Emmerson – Jacksonville Beach (ARC Volunteer Lifesaving Corps), FL
Alexis Fender – ISLA, U.S.A.
Natalie Foley – Sandy Beach Association, MA
Bryce Green – Nags Head Ocean Rescue, NC
William Koon – Huntington State Beach (California State Parks), CA
Vasilli Pleqi – Jacksonville Beach (ARC Volunteer Lifesaving Corps), FL
Joe Perez – ISLA, Dominican Republic
Angela Ray – Fernandina Beach Ocean Rescue, FL
Henry Reyes – Huntington City Beach Lifeguards/Santa Monica Harbor Patrol, CA
Nicholas Schriver – East Bay Regional Park Dist. Fire Department/Lifeguard Service, CA
Justin Sempstrot – Lifeguards Without Borders & Jacksonville Beach (ARC Volunteer Lifesaving Corps), FL
David Wagner – Huntington City Beach, CA
Hannah Wrenn – Fernandina Beach Ocean Rescue, FL
Nanz Zekela – ISLA, U.S.A.
Rachael Zielman – Surf Life Saving Australia, NSW

Project Nicaragua

But, even with all the good work done by ISLA volunteers and their Nicaraguan counterparts, there were 34 deaths by drowning during the 4-day Semana Santa holiday celebration this year. This statistic reinforces the need for additional lifesaving personnel, equipment, and training needed in Nicaragua. According to Maritza Vargas, Chief lifeguard of the Nicaraguan Red Cross, “The Nicaraguan Red Cross attended to 13 of the drowning victims who had found their way to ditches, lakes, and Chanel’s that are part of the countries water shed system but we’re unsuccessful in saving their lives. The additional twenty one individuals who drowned were individuals who unfortunately did not heed the recommendations because they were drunk.”

Product Review: Original Watermen Lifeguard Tonga Hat

Posted on: May 17th, 2015 by Henry Reyes No Comments

Lifeguard Tonga Hat

Hats are essential for all lifeguards. We all know how important it is to protect our skin from the harsh UV rays. The Tonga Hat from Original Watermen allows for 360 degrees of coverage.

For the ISLA project in Nicaragua we knew it was going to be hot. The Tonga hat kept the sun off my face and kept me cool. I normally wear a baseball cap to guard in but when we were given the Tonga hat it was a no-brainer as to what I would be using. I used the hat every day we were on the beach and my face, neck and ears did not get burnt. It also surprised me how cool the hat was, temperature wise.

The hat was very durable. The chin strap helped secure the hat on my head, as it was very windy. There were a couple of times I took the my hat in the water and I was worried what the salt would do to it, to my surprise it held up very well. The eyelets did not rust and it was even free of salt stains.

Upon returning home, I knew my hat needed to be washed do to how much I had worn it. So I threw it in the washer on a delicate cycle. The hat came out good as new. I laid it flat to dry. I recommend the Tonga Hat to all guards to help protect your skin!

Original Watermen Tonga Hat
Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: $10.50 (without embroidery)
Durability: A+
Performance: A+
Fit/Cut: A
Style/Swagger: A+
Comfort: A+
Price/Value: A+

Final Word: Great hat, for a great value!

– Alexis Fender

May 15th is International Water Safety Day

Posted on: May 13th, 2015 by islasurforg No Comments

“Striving to make a planet that’s 70% water, 100% water safe.”

About International Water Safety Day
International Water Safety Day (IWSD) is celebrated on May 15th each year and is designed to help spread global awareness of the ongoing drowning pandemic, and educate the youth in becoming safer in and around water. The lack of water safety education has propelled drownings worldwide and is why IWSD is a global team effort to make drowning preventable. IWSD is proud to announce several global events taking place on May 15th, 2015. These are a few of the many examples of how IWSD is celebrated around the world:

Safe Greece
Dr. Stathis Avramidis’ project will reach nearly 500,000 school children in Greece to teach Water Safety. The event is endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Hellenic CDC, International Swimming Hall of Fame, Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, Hellenic Federation of Underwater Activity, and International Awards Guiseppe Sciacca.

Bridging the Hydrological Divide
Diversity in Aquatic Programs will celebrate International Water Safety Day at the Jim and Jan Moran, Boys & Girls Club, Deerfield Beach Florida. A collection of aquatic professionals from across Broward County and the nation, will gather to interact with the children ages 7-14, to educate and practice some basic water safety skills, as well as showcase and promote the plethora of Safe Water Sports, activities, and professions in the classroom environment.

IWSD in Jamaica
A team of Aquatic Professionals along with Jamaican Olympian Janelle Atkinson-Wignall will present International Water Safety Day in Kingston, Jamaica. The team will make an impact on hundreds of students teaching our 10 #WaterSafety Rules in classroom settings.

Water Safety Awareness Workshops
In recognition of International Water Safety Day, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is conducting citywide Water Safety Awareness Workshops from Saturday, May 9 through Friday, May 15 with Parks aquatic program participants attending including parents of tots, children, adults, senior citizens, swim team members and those with disabilities. The Water Safety Awareness Workshops will reach over 5,000 children.

Water Safety Carnival
International Water Safety Foundation teams up with Sail Nauticus and Norfolk Public Schools to put on the 1st Annual Water Safety Carnival. Discussions on lifejacket safety, boat safety, sailing knots, and a life ring toss will be addressed. Two-time Olympic swimmer Dr. James Walsh will be guest speaking.

How You Can Show Support on May 15th:

  • Use the hash tags #watersafetyday and #stopdrowning on social media
  • Share our Drowning Pandemic video (above)
  • Download a badge from IWSD website to add to your blog our webpage
  • Wear BLUE
  • Connect and become active with the local aquatic professionals, enthusiasts, coaches and athletes in your area, to create your own International Water Safety Day Event for next year

Go to for more information on how to host or sponsor an #IWSD event!

International Water Safety Day