First batch of students take on lifeguard certification


A total of 14 students are headed toward becoming certified lifeguards under a program that was delayed for at least two months due to Super Typhoon Yutu late 2018.

The 500 Sails’ Gamsun Project, an advanced swim class aimed at training aspiring lifeguards, noted in a statement that `their first batches of students are headed toward becoming certified lifeguards this weekend.

Marianas High School junior Katherina Illahi noted that her favorite moment of the training would be passing the three swimming prerequisites with her fellow batchmates for the project.

The swimming prerequisites to take the lifeguard certification course includes a 550-meter, or about a third of a mile; two minutes of treading water without hands; and retrieving a submerged brick and swimming with it for 20 yards.

The prerequisites were originally scheduled for early November 2018 but were delayed due to Super Typhoon Yutu. In the meantime, the statement noted, the students practiced their coaching techniques through guarding, leading, and assisting with swim classes for children of families in former shelters.

MHS junior Daryll De Luna noted that about 30 children would have the “skills to be great swimmers.”

“The students were sad when they found out they were going back to their homes, but all in all, it was great,” he said.

While expenses for the program were not disclosed in the statement, the organization noted that the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Northern Marianas College CREES’ Family, Community and Youth Development Program and 4-H Marianas, and the Administration for Native Americans secured funding for 12 high school students to take the lifeguard certification course in exchange for participating in the Gamsun Project during the Spring Semester and beyond.

“Western Pacific Training Solutions is proud to be a part of the Gamsun Project,” lead lifeguard course instructor Glenn Policare said in a statement.

“The dedication this group has shown to becoming Water Front Lifeguards has been amazing. From competitive, seasoned athletes, to novice first-timers, the entire group encourages each other along the way,” he continued.

“500 Sails Dolphin Club Saipan co-founders Emma and Pete Perez started with free swimming lessons for adults back in June 2015 and are now expanding lessons for kids grades K-12,” 500 Sails program coordinator Samantha Birmingham-Babauta noted in a statement. “The freshly minted lifeguards will provide watchful eyes as 500 Sails staff and Dolphin Club Saipan volunteer teachers and lead the youth swimming lessons for the 500 Sails Gamsun Project,” she added.

The 500 Sails Gamsun Project will host three orientations on Feb. 1, 8, and 15, 2019 from 8am to 10am beachfront of the Guma Sakman for those interested.

The 500 Sails Gamsun Project will officially begin on Febr. 28, 2019. For enrollment information, please contact Lorenza Aldan at All classes are free of charge thanks to the sponsors listed above.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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