Honolulu Ocean Safety for the first time in more than a century assigned two women to guard a North Shore beach together on Sunday.
Kaiulani Bowers, a lifeguard veteran of 12 years, and two year veteran and big wave surfer Maddie Anzivino guarded Waimea Bay, where crowds gathered for Mother’s Day.
Ocean Safety Chief John Titchen said the department has about 240 lifeguards, and only about seven of them are women. “The North Shore even in May is busy and so what a testament to the caliber of lifeguard that we attract and the caliber of the women that we have that can work a beach like Waimea Bay,” Titchen said. “I couldn’t be prouder. I hope we see many more days like this in our immediate and distant future.”
Bowers said there were few women lifeguards when she became a junior lifeguard at aged 12.
“I think it’s the nature of the job,” she said. “It’s very physically demanding and you have to be willing to put yourself in dangerous situations for total strangers.”
But in recent years, she’s seen more women and girls gravitating toward the profession.
“When I was a junior lifeguard it was pretty much all boys, maybe one other girl, and guys were always winning all the events and in the front. Now, there’s more girls in the program, and the girls are actually beating all the time,” Bowers said. “It’s great to see a little shift.”