March 31, 2015, by Lee Chrimes
by Katherine Wickham, General Secretary of UoN Lifesaving
This past month has been a busy time in the University of Nottingham Lifesaving Club calendar. From March 8-5 2015, club members travelled to the Czech Republic to compete with several other university lifesaving clubs internationally, then the following week we were competing against those clubs at Student Championships.
Lifesaving as a sport combines the first aid and rescue skills needed to treat injured or drowning casualties with the physical agility of swimming – but there’s always a twist. A standard league competition is made up of five events, all of which you do in a mixed team of four. There are two simulated incidents (known as SERCs), one of which is land based and the other is in the pool. Following these, you compete in the speed events. These are a rope throw relay, swim and tow relay and a third relay event.
Grand Prix Moravie
But the month of March 2015 is not standard when it comes to competitions! Grand Prix Moravie is an international competition held in Brno, Czech Republic, and although it involves a wet incident, the focus of the weekend is primarily individual events.
The highlight of the weekend for me, however, was the wet incident. It was based on a real life event of an upturned boat at a dragon boat festival in Malaysia. The Czech competition has become famous within British university lifesaving as having the most spectacular incidents, and with three boats in the water, approximately 15 casualties and a soundtrack of extremely loud classical music, this year was no disappointment!
Another personal highlight was watching the Saving a Manikin by Boat. This isn’t an event that we regularly compete in, but it is a good opportunity for a laugh, particularly when one competitor decided to compete in a mankini – it left little to the imagination! Our coach, Frazer, and newly elected president, Hannah, were two of four BULSCA competitors to give this interesting event a go, and Frazer did the club and his country proud, coming in a respectable fifth out of all male competitors.
GPM is unique in the BULSCA (British University Lifesaving) calendar because we compete together as British Universities, and that was something that I really got from the weekend – BULSCA is a fun, strong and supportive community. From meeting at Stansted Airport on the Thursday, all weighed down with fins and orange social outfits, to leaving each other on the Sunday, I feel like I can speak for everyone who went to say that we had immense amounts of fun.
Buoyed by the experience of GPM, several club members competed in Student National Championships the following weekend. Champs is the only two-day university competition, and it runs the same as a normal league competition on the Sunday but offers the chance to compete in individual events on the Saturday.
This year was the first year that I competed in certain individual events, and on Saturday I was very much regretting volunteering for both Rescue Medley, an event which requires competitors to swim 17.5m underwater, and Super Lifesaver, a marathon event which meant I had to battle with a sunk manikin, a half full manikin, fins and a torpedo buoy in the space of a 200m race.
I had reservations about whether I could make that underwater swim, and Super Lifesaver is renowned for being a tough race, but I made it to the end of both of them and it very much felt like a personal victory.
Competing on Sunday involved an early start, a short stint in isolation in a sports hall then a hurried through dry incident, RNLI incident and a wet incident, finally rounding off with relays. The RNLI incident is the only thing that comes close to the Czech incident – it’s written by the lovely lifesavers at the RNLI and it is always loud, slightly shocking and covered in bodily fluids!
This year the most memorable moment was opening a van door and being confronted with two men covered in chains, one of them bleeding profusely and the other noticeably blue. Well, if I can deal with that then I can deal with anything, right?
The weekend saw several BULSCA records be broken, some exceptional CPR and first aid skills demonstrated and several lifesavers nearly fall asleep on public transport heading home.
Find out more
I have been involved in lifesaving for 4 years, and I am still astounded by what I can do personally and what we all achieve at competitions and in terms of skills for real life. I am immensely proud to be part of lifesaving, and if you think you’d be interested, whether you’re a medic looking for a more hands on way to put lectures into practice, a swimmer looking for a new challenge or just want to give something new and different a go, don’t hesitate to get in contact through Facebook (University Of Nottingham Lifesaving Club – 2014/2015), Twitter (@UoNLifesaving), via email or check our website.