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Solana Beach will offer an elite session for junior lifeguards, aged 14 to 16, who want a more challenging program or are interested in joining the city’s Marine Safety Department. Courtesy photo
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Junior guard program expanded

SOLANA BEACH — Council members at the Jan. 24 meeting unanimously agreed to enhance the city-run junior lifeguard program by adding an elite session for 14-, 15- and 16-year-old participants.

Each five-week course, with enrollment capped at 25, will serve as a training ground for serious athletes, potential future lifeguards and those who have participated in the past and are seeking more of a challenge.

The goal is to provide driven and proficient junior lifeguards with opportunities to learn enhanced skills and possibly become part of Solana Beach’s lifeguard team.

Participants will be given more advanced medical and rescue training. They will also interact and assist with tower lifeguards and serve as role models to others in the overall program, according to the staff report.

The Marine Safety Department believes these enhancements will benefit the city, community and department by further educating and training committed participants, the reports states.

The fee for the junior lifeguard program is $125 per week, which means the new sessions would cost $525 each. However, because it is being offered as a pilot program, the initial cost will be $450 for each five-week program.

The decision whether to make it permanent will be determined by demand and popularity.

The current program serves up to 1,000 youngsters during a 10-week period every summer. Open to youth between the ages of 7 and 16, it provides ocean safety instruction, athletics and an ocean-related curriculum.

With approval of the elite division, participants will now be categorized into three tracks. Groms, who are 7 to 8 years old, can enroll in a total of five two-week courses.

Junior lifeguards, who fall in the 9- to 15-year-old range, will be offered two four-week and one two-week sessions.

There will be two five-week courses available to the elite juniors.

The new program was part of the consent calendar, which includes several items that are approved with a single vote unless pulled for discussion by a member of the public or City Council.