Water Sports in Brazil
Brazil is a country that occupies the largest part of South America. It is divided into one federal district and 26 States of which only 10 do not have ocean access. The tropical climates of this vast land with its 7,408 km of beaches garanties an average water temperature of 20°C. This coastal region has various beautiful landscapes with beaches so delightful they are world wide renowned.
These inviting elements are a main reason for which Brazilians are so inclined to water sports and for which the Brazilian beaches are famous for holidays, sports and relaxation. The sandy beaches are also a perfect natural setting for cultural events such as concerts, dances, competitons in aquatic sports and many others. There has also been an increase of pools in clubs, condominiums and homes not only for relaxation but also for athletic training.
There are an estimated 5-10 million people who practice some form of water sport either leisurely or for a serious workout. A combined nationwide total of 100,000 athletes are at competitive levels and belong to aquatic organisations (1995). In 1996, swimming was considered the number one preferred sport.
In 1995, out of 155 million habitants, there were 7,020 drownings which makes an average of 4,5 per 100,000. The average for drowning in Brazil is 22 years old, and male predominantly. Considering all causes of death under 19 years old, drowning is the third leading cause between 1 and 14 years old.
For those reasons, Brazil history of aquatic Lifesaving started in 1914 in Rio de Janeiro City by Commodore Wilbert E. Longfellow from American Red Cross with the slogan "Each person should know how to swim and each swimmer should know how to save lives".
In the beginning, Brazilian Lifesaving Services was composed by volunteers who used to be employed as fishermen and swimmers. The first Lifesaving Services were then organised with professionals by the year of 30's. by the 80's the Lifesaving services were almost all composed by Military Firemen until nowadays. Some Civilian services still exist around the country.
Pool and Ocean Guards
There are two types of professional, full-time lifeguards:
Until 1995, each Lifesaving Services have their own guidelines and protocols for rescues and approaches of drowning victims
The Brazilian Life-Saving Society - SOBRASA - is a nonprofit, civil entity, founded in march of 1995 by a group of professionals with a common objective concerned about the number of deaths due to aquatic accidents, that have a water rescue background, philosophy of organisation and function to achieve high standards of water safety and rescue.
SOBRASA acts as a national coordinator of all the military and civil institutions that participate in rescue services, organise aquatic sports, general public education, organise research, studies and projects that promote aquatic awareness, safety and prevention.
The society is guided by a directory with representatives in 11 States from diverse entities involved in different water rescue activities. Is the only Brazilian organisation that dedicates its efforts to unify all Brazilian rescue services.
The Society has the aim of introducing the spirit of lifesaving and the concept of the International Life Saving Federation to lay persons in Brazil.