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Bali Bay Watch Take II

What it Takes to Be a Member of Balawista Bali Lifeguard Service.

(6/19/2011) The brief history of Bali's lifeguard service [See: Bali's Take on Baywatch] continues with more information on the 147-member-strong Balawista corps that patrol 63 kilometers of Bali's southernmost beaches.

Beritabali.com details the rigorous requirements to qualify to become a Balawista. Chief among these qualifications are the need to be in top physical condition and the ability to swim. Entrance tests for new lifeguards are held every October and include a speed and endurance test, both on the beach and in the water.

Balawista's
founder, Gde Berata, explained: "Those who pass the selection process must swim 400 meters in less than nine minutes. In addition, they must run down the beach for 200 meters, swim 200 meters and run 200 meters – all three must be completed within only 8 minutes."

Those who pass the qualification test are issued certificates which pave the way for ten days of intensive instruction during which swimming skills are constantly monitored and improved to a level that permits full participation as a Bali beach lifeguard.

Life on the Beach

A Bali lifeguard's day begins at 6:00 a.m. when a Balawista must already be on post and placing flags indicating areas open or closed to swimming. Yellow flags indicate safe-swimming conditions, while red flags or flags bearing a human skull mean that the beach is off-limits. The guards remain on watch throughout the day, watching for visitors who ignore warning flags or encounter any difficulties swimming in the open stretches of water. By 7:00 a.m. life preservers, jet skis and other safety equipment are at the ready; waiting for another day of busy beach activity.

Each lifeguard station is staffed by seven staff, split into two shifts of 7:00 a.m. until 12:00 pm and a second shift that covers the beach until 7:00 p.m..

Berata continued: "Every Friday, all lifeguards, except those on beach patrol, are required to gather at the main post. The gatherings are used for additional instruction and guided discussions.

Founded in 1972, the Balawista of Bali are now celebrating their 39th year of safeguarding Bali's southern beaches.