At the awards ceremony the suspense grows as individual medals and goody bags are handed out. Event sponsor OluKai presents a $12,000 check to support the junior lifeguard programs on all the islands. When the state champion is finally announced, it’s met with a deafening scream. It’s Kaua‘i again, with a total of 187 points to beat O‘ahu (112 points), Hawai‘i Island (61 points) and Maui (32 points).
“I’m so amped! Lucky seven!” cries Dana Augustine, posing next to the trophy. The high school senior holds back tears. “My mom signed me up three years ago for the Kalapaki Beach session. I wanted to go bodyboarding instead. I’m so glad I didn’t. I love these people.
“We’re not cocky, but we have so much pride,” she says. The junior guards showed her she could excel in sports even though she wasn’t an exceptional athlete. “I tell people who haven’t signed up yet, ‘You don’t know what it’s like to win a state title!’”
“The most important thing they teach us is no matter where you are, you can be the one to make the difference,” Augustine says. She’s planning to apply for college and join the Air Force. But would she consider a career as a Hawai‘i lifeguard? She grins. “That would be a dream job!”