An event about saving lives at 2019 CISM Military World Games
Sports Scene

Saving lives is a daily task for doctors, first responders and, of course, lifeguards. At the military world games in Wuhan, China, lifesaving has also been turned into a competition. Hundreds of swimmers are competing, but it's only partly about swimming.

The unique event at Wuhan Five Rings Sports Center Natatorium may look like an ordinary swimming competition. But it's not. Athletes dive into the pool to recover a mannequin before carrying it back to the finish line. A mannequin, weighing about 40 kilograms and filled with water, get placed at the bottom of the swimming pool for the event in real competitions.

Luo Liangqi, a technical official of Lifesaving Competition in Wuhan, told CGTN, "The mannequin is a meter tall. In the race, athletes can only grab the mannequin around its neck. And there is a five-meter pick up zone where athletes are required to surface the mannequin above water."

Carrying a 40-kilogram object while swimming is beyond exhausting. But athletes say they enjoy it more than swimming per se, because they've got more tools to play with. 

Jan Malkovski, a corporal from Germany, said, "You have so many ways to carry the mannequin. It's not boring like 'normal swimming.' You have to do so many different things. It's so exciting.”

Meanwhile Bao Xueyi, a cadet from China, remarked, "Lifesaving is more fun of a competition because it's got all the equipment like mannequins, floats, and fins. But that also means it requires a lot of strength and stamina."

Like every sport, the goal is to get stronger and faster. Chinese athlete Bao also added that for training, she swims thousands of meters with the mannequin. But competition aside, there is something about the sport that makes it meaningful. 

Fernanda Andrade, a sergeant from Brazil, mentioned, "Like rescuing somebody. We are real lifesavers. That's the meaning of the sport. It's more important than winning a medal."

The expression, "You are a lifesaver," in English means you are a helpful person. But those who actually master the skill are the real lifesavers.