By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Russian River was a backyard for Seth Trunick growing up. Spending his past summers at a lifeguard camp has him watching over Sonoma County’s beaches now.
Heading into his senior year at Windsor High School, Trunick is the first graduate of the county’s open water junior lifeguard program to become a certified lifeguard for the county’s regional parks.
“The water’s always been a passion for me,” Trunick said. “The camps were a blast. They really prepared you.”
A graduate of the first open water lifeguard camp five years ago, Trunick kept going back. He completed the county’s rigorous training academy this past spring.
Four other camp alumni are lifeguards for the city of Santa Rosa.
The expanding open water program is training a new generation of lifeguards with more nearing qualifying ages. The age requirement for the American Red Cross program is 15, and 16 for Sonoma County Regional Parks.
“The program is still young. We believe that the age range is now catching up and we will see more applications from our junior guards,” said David Robinson, Sonoma County Regional Parks aquatics specialist. “They’re doing a lot of basic skills training our academies go through. They’re pretty familiar with what it takes to get through.”
Trunick learned a lot from the lifeguards at Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach, who in addition to teaching him how to swim, impressed the value of safety and awareness on the river.
The open water camps tapped a commitment to join their ranks. Trunick maintained that drive even as he dedicated much time to becoming a Press Democrat All-Empire first-team wrestler at Windsor.
“Knowing you can rescue someone, there’s no better feeling,” he said. “That really hit me.”