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San Diego Junior Lifeguards Take A Leap

Evening Edition

— Jumping off the beach piers in San Diego is against the law. But every once in awhile it’s allowed for a special group of people. That was the case today in Ocean Beach for the Junior Lifeguards.

“I’m super excited,” said 14-year-old Aidan Scott. “This is the best part of the whole camp. I’m really looking forward to it. Big drop, but I’m excited.”

Aidan is one of about 300 kids who made the jump. He’s part of the Junior Lifeguards, an organization run by the San Diego City Lifeguards. Lifeguard Chief Rick Wurts said the program is about teaching kids to be more self-confident and to be more comfortable around the ocean. He said many of the kids receive scholarships to take part in the program, which runs through the summer.

“One of the passions of the Junior Lifeguard program is to teach kids about swimming, teach them about safety in the ocean,” Wurts said. “And so we really try to reach out to those kids that don’t have much of an opportunity.”

But rising administrative costs ate into the scholarship budget this year. So all of the San Diego City Council members kicked in additional funds to make sure the number of scholarships was maintained. Councilman Kevin Faulconer represents Ocean Beach. He said the junior lifeguard program plays an important in teaching kids about the beach.

“Get kids down to the water, see what the beach is about, learn about water safety,” he said. “And, as you can tell by looking at the kids behind me, they’re loving it and they’re having a great time.”

Faulconer wasn’t just there to support the kids; he was there to jump himself. He joined Lifeguard Chief Wurts and others in taking the 35-foot plunge from the pier into the 66-degree water below.

And his jump was followed by leaps from excited kids, including 14-year-old Aidan, who was the last in his group to go. Aidan was getting more nervous as his jump got closer.

“I wanted to go earlier, but I’m excited. Getting a little scarier as we go along, but still want to do it,” he said.

And when his turn came, Aidan climbed up on the large blocks, raised his hands over his head and stepped off the pier into the chilly water below.

Video by Nicholas McVicker

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