Meet ISLA’s volunteer global lifeguard, Nick Schriver. He joined ISLA for our 2015 Nicaragua Lifeguard trip, check out his ISLA Experience…
What can you tell us about yourself?
I am a waterman – I love to swim and will get in just about any body of water and “navigate the waters,” swimming, free-diving, scuba diving, paddling, boating, and surfing. I am a water baby, and water is life for me, it’s made me who I am today. There is no better feeling of inner space, the closest thing to outer space. Pools, lakes, bay, the ocean, what have you… I gravitate toward the water and wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t sort out life challenges while swimming and thinking about them. Keeping the lifeguards stoked on swimming is always one of my objectives, reminding them of the essence of the job and getting in the water to swim every chance they get. No cats allowed and “you’re getting in the water today.” Oh and I like the smell of chlorine on my skin
My two main hobbies are snowboarding and surfing, depending on the season, any free day that I have, I spend it doing those sports. I have a 6 y/o son and have recently taught him to be water safe and ski the mountain top-to-bottom by himself. Passing on the “stoke,” one of my life goals – check. My dedication into life is for him; I do the best I can as a parent.
The meaning of life for me is to be able to influence and impact as many lives as possible thorough my family, friends, lifeguards, work, hobbies, and public. Being able to move on and see the impact I’ve made, passing on whatever it may be to the next generation, also through sharing my walk of life and being able to talk about and share life’s peaks and valleys, lessons learned, and passion for life.
I love my career in public safety, I’m an Aquatic Supervisor and Fire Lieutenant and am “living the dream” to be able to have a direct impact on society, teach lifesaving and directly and indirectly see the impact I’ve made on lifeguards and lives saved, those aspects make me thankful for my life and influence. I’m passionate about life and although I love my job, “I work to live.”
I have been lifeguarding for over 21 years and was hired as a career lifeguard in 2001. I consider myself a swimmer by trade and attribute making a career out of lifeguarding my hard work, grit, successes, and passion for lifesaving. I work for the East Bay Regional Park District – Fire Department/Lifeguard Service – we are open water lifeguards, lifeguarding at lakes, reservoirs, bay, lagoons, and pools, catering to a population of approximately half-a-million visitors annually.
When did you start lifeguarding?
When I was a kid I stared up at the lifeguards in their towers as if they were superheroes; I was in awe and forever inspired. I started lifeguarding in 1994 at Lake Anza, Tilden Park, East Bay Regional Park District, – Berkeley, CA. I chose this noble work work because I could use my swim talents to the fullest while aspiring to make a difference in society.
What is your favorite beach?
Francis Beach – aka “Kelly Beach”, Half Moon Bay State Beach, CA
What is your favorite aspect of being a lifeguard?
Being able to detect and make life-altering decisions in a matter of critical moments and decisions that will determine survivability outcomes. As a leader in lifeguarding I love working with adolescent lifeguards, I feel I have a direct impact on the future of our society through influencing them and the difference that they can make in the future; they endlessly challenge my wit and physical abilities keeping me young.
What inspires you?
My son, family, loyalty, righteous peeps, snowboarding, surfing, my job, scaring myself on open water swims, and life-fitness. And… hitting a long-ball straight drive golfing. Inspiration is making a difference through lifeguarding; knowing that you can look at a life saved and know that they will go home to their family.
Why did you get involved with ISLA?
ISLA is doing work in a field that is underdeveloped and still young as far as advancements and addressing an underrepresented global problem/disease – drowning, and preventing it. I wanted to get involved so that I could increase drowning prevention awareness on a larger scale, being able to influence lifeguards through prevention, pro-activeness, and training. When I first heard a presentation from “Lifeguards Without Borders” at the Surf Lifesaving Training Officer Academy in Florida, I gained a new perspective on the drowning epidemic and how there is much work to be done not just at locally, but globally; I wanted to put my newly acquired skills and knowledge to work with ISLA. Nicaragua has always been on my bucket list and is right up my alley because I love Latin America and I love to speak Spanish – it’s in my blood, I’m half Peruvian. ISLA enables me to use all of my passions and talents to contribute to society on a much greater scale.
What interests you the most about ISLA?
The positive work ISLA is doing is motivating and innovative, it’s truly where the “rubber meets the road” as far as the work they’re doing. I love the idea of helping lifeguards and people in other countries and bonding a shared mission.
What was your 2015 ISLA Experience like?
It was certainly more than I expected, meeting a group of new lifeguards from all over made the first part of the trip so much fun, the lifeguard culture is fun and extreme, such a unique group and life-long friendships were molded. Once we got our assignment it was a fight against the elements of the heat, sun, and staying hydrated. It was taxing to work long days being in the sun and drinking warm water, and then having trouble sleeping because it was too hot and you were too excited for what the next day had in store. Because I speak Spanish I was translating non-stop, much like a diplomat, mainly for training, but also helping bridge the gap between the non-Spanish speaking ISLA volunteers and the Red Cross. We had one action-packed day of several rescues and a resuscitation; that was the highlight of the trip – saving a drowning victim’s life, knowing that we did more than what we expected to do. However what resonates even more was the Nica culture, making life-long friendships, training with the Red Cross Nica lifeguards (up at the crack of dawn), sharing ideas, and motivating each other.
What was the most memorable about your 2015 ISLA Experience?
The crazy action-packed day with my ISLA partner Chris Angelotti, where we had several surf rescues and the resuscitation of the drowning victim; at the end of day just before the last rescue, looking at him and say “What the…?”
Can you share any stories with us about your Nicaraguan trip?
From the first time I met our veteran volunteers Dave Wags and Hannah Wrenn I could sense their excitement and how it built as we got closer to the beach and our assignment. The first morning on assignment at Jiquilillo beach Hannah woke up at 5:00am and sprung out of bed with the most enthusiasm I have ever heard and said “it’s 5 o’clock everybody get up” – like it was Christmas! Her energy was contagious, even at 5:00am… Now I get it now, that will be me next time.
What is lifeguarding during Semana Santa like?
Lifeguarding at Jiquilillo beach was awesome because of the Nicaraguan Red Cross and how well organized and motivated they were. The days were long and we were up at 5:00am to train and then lifeguard side-by-side with the Nicaraguan Red Cross lifeguards, sharing ideas, influencing each other, and making a difference through preventive actions, rescues, and lifeguard strategies. It was fun to go on walking patrol and to mingle with the Nicas, making prevents and telling them about ISLA and what we were doing. Semana Santa was exhausting in a good way, putting in work, knowing that you are truly making a difference and helping modernize the Nicaraguan Red Cross lifeguard service through our influence.
What was the highlight of this year’s trip?
Being my first ISLA trip, the entire trip was a highlight but three high points would be: arriving and meeting all the volunteers, receiving our beach assignment, and going on a surf trip with three other volunteers. Each was a highlight because of the anticipation, the unknowns, and fun. But the action-packed day of making rescues and saving the drowning victim’s life at the beach was truly the highlight that sticks out the most.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining an ISLA trip?
Hold on for a wild ride! Mentally and physically prepare yourself for a marathon, so that you can endure tough elements of being in uncomfortable situations for long periods of time. Be patient, flexible, and of course put a smile on your face because “winning and looking good are number one.” Just as it was for me, the trip and experience will be one of the most fulfilling and impactful things that you will do in your life, it may even be life-altering and you will go back home a changed, more inspired, and passionate person. The trip will remind you about what it means to be a lifeguard and the difference you can make both small and big. Lastly, bring your best sunscreen!
How will you continue to prevent drowning and create Awareness for the global drowning epidemic after your ISLA Trip?
I plan on carrying forward the message and creating awareness of drowning being a disease that is misunderstood and underrepresented, changing perspectives and understanding on the topic and the difference we can all make as lifeguards and humanitarians. We can all work together to make a positive impact in the global drowning epidemic. I will work to be able to connect with our Hispanic park visitors, speak to them in Spanish, educate them and move towards making them water safe and teaching them to wear lifejackets. This awareness needs to be made at local, state, national, and international levels so that more progress, research, and development can be made to better understand the impact of drowning. Lastly the way that “Lifeguards Without Borders” is training and educating lifeguards on how to treat and resuscitate drowning victims is radical, enlightening, innovative, and inspiring. We as lifeguards need to understand this movement and recognize that we are “resuscitationists” and have a few critical moments to make life-and-death decisions. I want to help train lifeguards and spread their message and methods.
Describe yourself in three words.
Deliberate, versatile, humble
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