It sounds impossible: Swim, run and paddle the entire distance from California to Hawaii throughout one day, and then come back and do it in the reverse. Yep, it’s too much for a single person. But it’s a manageable challenge for San Diego’s junior lifeguards when they work together for a good cause.

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Support a Junior Guard

If you want to support Hawaii Day, you can pledge to match a certain kid(s) miles or give a set dollar amount. If you’re in the giving mood, sponsor one of the three age junior lifeguard groups (A, B or C groups).

This year’s annual “Hawaii Day” events will allow young people to raise money for a good cause while working together to reach a remarkable goal. In past years Hawaii Day has raised as much as $24,000.

“We teach kids about creating and achieving their goals while working in a team,” says James Murphy, Program Manager for the San Diego Junior Lifeguards. “We boost their confidence by helping them reach goals they didn’t think were possible.”

Every summer for that past 8 years (since 2007) the foundation has hosted Hawaii Day fundraisers which in turn raise money to support aquatic education and drowning prevention. This year’s events will be held on July 10 and Aug. 19 at South Mission Beach.

Backed by sponsorship donations, junior lifeguards will work together to swim, paddle and run the entire distance from California to Hawaii – about 2,600 miles – on July 10. They’ll return on Aug. 19 to do the same thing and cover the same distance, this time on a “return trip” from Hawaii to California.

Junior guards make it "Around the World" for Hawaii Day. Aloha!
Junior guards make it “Around the World” for Hawaii Day. Aloha!
Junior guards make it “Around the World” for Hawaii Day. Aloha!

This is how it’ll look: Junior lifeguards take a trip “Around the World.” This involves them swimming every buoy from South Mission Beach to Mission Beach to Tower 19 to Pacific Beach to North Pacific Beach. They run in between buoys totaling approximately 6 miles of running and just less than 2 miles of swimming.

Here’s what junior lifeguards have to say about Hawaii Day:

•“Hawaii Day is the next best thing to actually flying to Hawaii. Hawaii Day may seem like a lot of work in which you’re just running around all day swimming miles in the ocean, but it’s more than that. It’s a whole entire day of bonding and having fun with your team.”
–12-year-old Stella Bruce, a fourth-year junior lifeguard

“My mileage increased every Hawaii Day as I moved up through the program. I was introduced to ‘Around the World,’ a typical Hawaii Day experience for a junior lifeguard consisting of swimming and running about 7 miles.”
Gaby Thomas, a graduate of Cathedral Catholic High School who began taking part in Hawaii Day at the age of 9. She’s a second-year intern with the lifeguard program, has attended the city’s Lifeguard Academy and hopes to work as a San Diego beach lifeguard next summer.

• “Hawaii Day really redefines what you thought was possible to accomplish, especially as a kid. Who knew you could run, swim, and paddle over 10 miles in one day? The supportive energy that you receive from your group as you power through the sand and waves helps you to keep going. Each Hawaii Day, we set goals about how far we want to go, and we always meet and exceed those goals. At the end of the day, everyone is exhausted yet satisfied, knowing they tried their best and accomplished something amazing.”
Joelle Schauer, a high school junior, who’s taken part in Hawaii Day since the age of 9.

• “Even though some kids think it’s going to be really hard, I think it shows that we are more capable of what we think we are. You wouldn’t expect to be able to do all of this, but we manage to get everyone to finish, which is really cool.”
Sam Coon, a high school senior

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If you’d like to help the brave swimmers, runners and paddlers during Hawaii Day, sign up as volunteer for the day. You’d be in charge of manning water stations, setting up and breaking down and doing part of the workout.

The Foundation that sponsors Hawaii Day supports the San Diego Junior Lifeguard Program, which provides aquatic education to kids aged 9-17. Participants learn skills in areas like water rescue, first aid and CPR, physical fitness and more.

The fundraising from Hawaii Day events will support the program’s Waterproofing San Diego initiative, which aims to teach swimming and water safety to local children. Partners in the Waterproofing San Diego initiative include the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department, San Diego Unified School District, and San Diego-area YMCAs.

Were you a former Junior Lifeguard? Tell us your story!

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