Aurora (right, holding flag) was chosen as the anchor for her relay team for the Taplin Relays (above) at Dockweiler State Beach Youth Center in Playa Del Rey.
Los Angeles County Fire Departmentâs Junior Lifeguard Program, open to children ages 9 through 17, was founded in 1963, to teach children the basic skills and duties of a certified lifeguard by offering them a chance to become a junior lifeguard.
The summer of 2021 marked the programâs return, after being closed down by the pandemic in 2020. It was an opportunity that Aurora Behrman, age 9, enthusiastically embraced as she learned about ocean and beach safety, physical conditioning, basic first aid, and environmental awareness. She could indeed be one of the next generation of lifeguards and future leaders.
In fact, said her mother, Elizabeth Behrman, âShe is definitely dreaming of becoming an ocean lifeguard some day.â
The rigorous regimen of physical conditioning included competitions in paddle boarding, swimming, and running races, and relays. Aurora was especially passionate about open water swimming and did a buoy swim almost every day of the summer. The highlight of the season for her were the Taplin Relays, held at Dockweiler (State Beach) Youth Center in Playa Del Rey, where she was chosen as the anchor of her team.
Another highlight, Aurora said, was learning to surf where she made new friends.
âThe JL experience was a real turning point for her,â said Elizabeth. âShe gained both confidence and strength and found her passion. She loved it so much that she tried out for Westside Aquatics and ended up joining both the swim team and synchronized swim team. Iâm so grateful a program like this exists. I really like the sense of purpose Jr. Lifeguard gave Aurora.â
âI love knowing I can help people when they are in danger in the ocean,â Aurora said.
Weâll check in when Aurora turns 18, when she can be certified as a lifeguard. To qualify, cadets need to complete a 500-meter ocean swim in less than 13 minutes, a one-mile run in under 12 minutes, 40 sit-ups, 40 push-ups, a two-minute plank hold, and a 50-question assessment.
For information: fire.lacounty.gov/junior-lifeguard-program.