Joining Junior Lifeguards is a Gold family tradition.
For eight years, Zack Gold participated in various junior guard programs. Now a 20-year-old student at Stanford University, he lifeguards at Monterey State Beach.
On Friday, his mom, Lisette Gold, made the 53-year trek to Newport Beach from Santa Monica for the 2013 California Junior Lifeguards Championship — this time to cheer on her 13-year-old daughter, Natalie.
Living up to her last name, Natalie medaled in two events: distance ocean and the run/swim/run events.
"She just got two medals — very proud of her following her big brother," Gold said.
The Golds were among more than 1,100 junior lifeguards competing Friday near the Newport Pier. They competed in ocean swims, beach runs and rescue paddleboard races, among other contests, according to event spokesman Adam Sandler.
Twenty-two agencies, ranging as far north as Santa Cruz and as far south as the Mexican boarder, participated in Friday's events.
For Sabrina Jensen, 16, her eight-week junior lifeguard experience with the Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguards program is preparing her for what she hopes to do later in life.
"I want to be a lifeguard when I'm older, so it helps me prepare for that," Jensen said.
Standing beside her was her 9-year-old sister, Ella, who is in her second year of junior guards.
Ella raced in the distance paddle and paddle-relay events Friday.
"I did OK," she said, shyly turning in toward her sister.
This summer was the first Myles Christian has worked as a junior guards instructor and the eighth he's worked as a lifeguard for Newport Beach.
Christian taught the C Division for kids between the ages of 10 and 11, who are oftentimes timid while familiarizing themselves with the Pacific.
"My main goal is just to get them comfortable with the ocean," said Christian, who did junior guards between the ages of 10 and 14.
"It's just kind of nice to give back to the program," Christian said.
Ezaz Hasnain, 15, visited the beach Friday, and wasn't part of the competition. Instead he watched the races unfold from the sand while enjoying a day at the beach.
"Seeing all these guys out here makes me wonder, like, 'wow,'" he said. "That's pretty brave."