September 2008 – Venice Junior Lifeguards Are New Champs

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By Lydia Poncé

While Michael Phelps was winning his gold medals in Beijing- the Venice Junior Lifeguards WON the City of Los Angeles Championship, Sunday, August 10th at John C. Argue Stadium Pool!!!!

Against the odds of uncertainty: the repairs needed for the neighborhood pool would simply translate into possible closure, for how long? No one knew all Summer. The Venice Jr. Lifeguards (VJL) after qualifying for the finals proved to be undefeatable and took the win for the trophy – now proudly displayed at the entrance and it is shared by all involved!!!!

Mario Jovel, the kids’ VJL coach stated that his only doubts about this season’s competitions were that some of the participants were off on vacation. He did not know if Venice would have enough kids to compete. But Venice arrived on the scene with a smaller, but obviously, mightier team to beat! Heats consisted of 50 meter sidestroke relay, t-shirt relay, innertube backstroke race, mask & snorkel race, buoy rescue, and rescue tube relay. 

Most of L.A.’s 51 pools came to compete; over 300 kids were divided into two groups- juniors and seniors. In the prelims Venice took 7 first place awards out of 12; then swam again for finals and took first again- for a total of 5 wins! Congrats Venice VJL!

Have there been an increased amount of calls to Venice Pool with inquiries about swimming or teams since the Phelps-mania? Venice Pool staff member, Evelyn Cortez responded, “No, not really, but there are a lot more new faces coming to swim.”

On August 24th, the Venice Waterpolo team took 5th place at City’s Championships. Coach Chris Baele had 15 kids on his co-ed team, ages 17 years and younger. The top two pools from each region competed. The only challenge he faced this season was the kids conflicts with time scheduling, Summer school, kid’s family vacation time and Waterpolo practice. We made it to finals and we took 5th place; that is a great win by all accounts!

Kim Cardenas, the Dive team and Synchronized Swim Coach, was busy this season! Venice Dive team participants had 17 kids; six competed and two kids representing Venice made it to City Final championships- and took fourth place! Venice Synchro swim- solo performer Leslie Cardenas won first place and is this year’s City of L.A. Champ! Leslie and her partner, Brielle Huerta performed a great duet and placed second for the City Championships!

Kaiser Permanente funded all of the events for the City of L.A.’s Jr Lifeguard program and swim lessons. The Junior Lifeguard programs offers kids an opportunity to improve their swimming skills, get the basics of water rescue, learn first aid, and gain snorkeling and canoeing skills. City of L.A offered scholarships this Summer for Dive Team, Swim Team, Synchronized Swim, Water Polo and staff. It is still uncertain how the budget cuts will affect the Venice Pool activities and employees.

I spoke with Venice High School’s Aquatics Coach Sophie Sabbah and she shared that there are no planned closures for the pool. She’s anticipating a great Waterpolo Season this Fall and Winter. She offered, “Get your kids involved, there are some spaces available on the Waterpolo teams.” The teens swim 6th period at 2 p.m., daily. The Venice High Swim team begins in February. Go Gondos!!!

As a parent from Venice, I have to recommend all of these swim programs and kids can participate in a combo of any of these. 

Swimming daily, five days a week, the teens are too tired to do anything else. They stay out of trouble and they gain an ideal sense of health.

I wish there were gold medals to be given to the staff at Venice Pool for their dedication and for all their hard work they have provided for our neighborhood kids and families! Congrats to all!!!

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