Lessons Learned: Notes on winning the 2021 WB Ocean Rescue Tryouts

Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Director Dave Baker stands with the Ruttkay family Nealie, Cornelia, Dax, Sean, and Agustus) following Sean’s win.

In Wrightsville Beach, NC yesterday I stepped up to the sandy starting line and went head to head with 51 of SENC’s greatest athletes to find out who was the fastest swim/run competitor around.  It was the 2021 Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Lifeguard tryouts and in the end, I finished first place to claim my 8th victory overall in the ten years that I have completed. For the past 24 hours, the outpouring of support regarding this accomplishment at the ripe age of 40 has been humbling and I thank everyone so much for the love.  The biggest question I have gotten in this interim is, “how do you do it at your age?”  My answer is simple, engage water physically on a daily basis.  Professionally, it is my mission to capture and philosophize on the aesthetic of water, however, the gas to my out-worldly goals is in the engagement of water physically and importantly to be mindful during the act.

To be properly in tune with the earth, one must be with its greatest element most.  The more you are the stronger you’ll be.  For me, that means going to a swimming pool once a day, for one hour, and swim vigorously. Then spend the remainder of the day consuming large amounts of water while doing otherwise normal mundane activities.  For others, this routine might be different or need to be different based on what life puts in front of you.  But the bottom line is this way of being and the philosophy is accessible to everybody. There are no excuses.  If all you have is a showerhead to put yourself in water put yourself there, and when you do be mindful about the experience. Think about nothing else but the fact that you are with this precious fluid at the moment you are in.  This water, the same exact fluid by molecule, was flowing the earth when dinosaurs were walking on it. To engage water in this way is to be king of your physical domain.  Winning for me yesterday was extremely gratifying but it is not why I train and engage water daily,  I engage water daily because if I didn’t I would not be the best human that I could be in this time.

  • -Sean Ruttkay

PS. Second most asked a question following the win:

Q: Are you going to lifeguard on the beach this
A:  No. I competed only for fun and as I wish I had the time to lifeguard this summer I must watch my own three children on the beach and mold them to their water-loving future.

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