Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

An estimated 110 million people visit the beaches of Southern California during the summer time. From star-laden Malibu to the hip Newport Beach, the Left Coast of America is renowned for its miles of shoreline, coastal cruising locations and people-watching and sports opportunities.

Approximately 40% of the beach-goers get in the water to swim, surf, body surf, paddle and kayak. With full-time and part-time lifeguards to protect the masses of visitors to the beach and in the surf, everyone is in good hands.

Up and down the coast, the lifeguards are independent units, but are also divisions of the local fire department, responsible for both onshore safety and ocean rescues. They guard from watchtowers, rescue boats, and basic patrol cars driving up and down the beach where, on a moment’s notice, they can be jumping off their watchtower, sprinting down the beach with their rescue tube and fins, dolphining through the shallows, and racing through the surf to save someone from drowning or providing medical assistance.

They also support local police, find lost children, bandage wounds and enforce environmental laws.

Always active and ever vigilant, the lifeguards are required to be fit, knowledgeable of the ocean and good runners and swimmers.

Most recently, the Southern California lifeguard corps tragically lost one of its best, Ben Carlson, who gave his life in rescuing another swimmer. The life-long swimmer and water polo playing Carlson was fit and able, his strength and stamina toned by years of training on the soft sands and rough waters of Southern California.

Carlson participated in the 2007 Mega, also known as Mega Colossus, a Huntington State Beach Lifeguards Association-sponsored race in the sand and surf of the Pacific Beach.

The Mega consists of 5 beach runs totaling 8.5 miles (13.7 km) and 4 ocean swims totaling 4000 yards (3.65 km) through the surf and swells. There are no entry fees, no awards, no wetsuits, no fins, and no shoes. It is about as pure an athletic contests as can be. The competitors run in their swimsuits with their goggles in an underground California lifeguard celebration of life.

Organizer John Rodgers explains, “Once again, in the spirit of lifeguarding and endurance sports, it’s an honor and a privilege to announce the 2014 Mega Colossus, a Huntington State Lifeguard tradition since 1979, on July 15th. Huntington State Beach Lifeguard Association is excited about the increased popularity and attendance of the event. All competent ocean athletes who love and respect the ocean and beaches of California are welcome. The bottom line is that the Mega is a free event. Participants are not required to purchase a shirt, but we sell high quality Mega merchandise to offset the expenses involved in hosting the event.”

Our vision is to provide a high quality outdoor recreation experience for the health, inspiration and enjoyment of the people of California. We firmly believe the Mega Colossus measures up to the task. It is designed to challenge and reward you physically and mentally in a competitive environment, and just maybe, instill in you a burning desire to return in future years. We want you to walk away from the Mega with a sense of belonging to the community and culture of Huntington Beach lifeguards, who respect and appreciate what Huntington Beach has to offer.

Huntington City Beach has consistently been cooperative and supportive of the Mega Colossus throughout the years. Their lifeguard association logo has been placed on the left sleeve of the micros and sweatshirts as a gesture of goodwill. Huntington Beach City will host the second aid station in front of Huntington Beach City tower 24. There are 2 aid stations on the course and the finish line will have refreshments.”

But the endurance event is silent with primarily the sound of a heavily beating heart and the roar of the crushing surf providing the ambiance. “There are no live bands, no aid stations at every mile, no chip timing and no massage tables at the finish line. It is not a fancy event, but a true lifeguard endurance test. No excuses, no explanations, just, Put Yourself on the Line.

Results will be posted on Grouphicks.com. For more information, contact John Rodgers at [email protected].

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association