NAME: MERY CARRANZA BADILLA

LOCATION(S): GRECIA, COSTA RICA

YEARS LIFEGUARDING: 19

I am an officer with the rank of lieutenant of the National Association of Lifeguards of Costa Rica. 

I have always liked helping people and I found in this association a nice opportunity to offer my services, so I took my first training on October 2, 2001 and to this day I continue working in favor of the reduction of drowning. In reality, there are many experiences in 19 years, in which I have participated and each one generates a different feeling in me. 

Through my participation I have seen tears and joys, but one that marked me was in the Cahuita National Park in Limon on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica during holy week. A man was dragged by a current, and I was more than 400 meters from the place when they alerted us. The sea was very dangerous with big waves and a lot of wind. At 200 meters we could see the head of the man and my partner and I started the entrance. Everything was complicated because sometimes I could not see the man. The waves were very strong and enormous. I asked God to let me arrive since the waves were so strong. It was difficult to enter, then for a few seconds I was reminded of my instructor who told me if you cannot enter, run along the beach and look for a stream.

Suddenly, I saw the opportunity in a stream that was nearby and I was able to enter immediately. Ade, my partner who is very strong, managed to enter with me and in a short time we were close to the man who never knew that we were coming from behind. From one moment to another we spoke to him and he saw us and cried. He did not think we were there to save him and seeing him hug the torpedo with force was something incredible. After taking him to the beach, he met his mother and another brother. They cried on the beach and then we valued and moved him. The joy that I still feel from that rescue makes my tears flow with emotion remembering that day.  

I started as a lifeguard in swimming pools and then I became professionalized. I have had the best and most recognized teachers. I joined as a beach lifeguard and then my first recognition of many arrived. Today, I have the rank of lieutenant and work in the most important operations team of the association and I am currently the only woman with this rank in our country.

Images provided by Mery Carranza Badilla.