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Making Waves

November 09, 2015
Published In: Employee Stories

​"I could feel the swell, pulsating through the ground. I knew it then: this is going to be big."

Famous for its behemoth waves and incredible surfing, Hawaii's Waimea Bay is home to the annual Quicksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave surf event – a contest that only happens when wave faces reach a minimum of 30-feet high. As Sean heard his fellow lifeguards' urgent call for action that day, the waves on his annual trip had already reached 35-feet, the largest he has ever experienced. "Once you engage in a rescue, it sits with you for a very long time," he says.

Sean has played, recreated, and made a living off of water for the last 30 years. What started as a seasonal job lifeguarding on the east coast of Canada turned into decades of competitive swimming, paddling and professional aquatic rescue training across the globe. From braving the open waters of Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand to the world class white water at home in Alberta, water is a way of life for Sean.

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"Water safety is a now paramount part of both my day job and my recreational life."

- Sean, Laboratory Technologist

"When I applied at EPCOR I was looking for more of a career, not necessarily a job" he says about his move into a fulltime role at EPCOR. "I'm in the same field - water, but now I'm working on the health and safety side of things." 

After two years with EPCOR, Sean took on a new role as a Laboratory Technologist at the Rossdale Water Treatment plant where he spends considerable time in the field doing residential water testing. While his adrenaline still comes out on weekends, "water safety is a now paramount part of both my day job and my recreational life," he says.

This means talking to over 3,500 people per year and visiting eight homes daily. "Everyday I meet someone new," says Sean. "The fact that I have travelled the world has really helped me in my role. Whether customers do the same activities as me, or they're from a region I've visited, there's always something I can relate to and make conversation about. It really helps me gain their trust, which is important when you think about public safety and drinking water."

At home, Sean's garage is lined with swiftwater, surf, and ice rescue gear along with all kinds of water sporting equipment. "Year round, I'm either training, training somebody, or recreating in or around water," says Sean, who swims, runs, or paddles every morning he can at Lake Summerside. "As soon as the ice is cracking in the spring, I'm in full gear on the water."

Seasonally, Sean manages a stand up paddleboarding school and professional aquatic rescue business in Alberta. From teaching the general public to training emergency services professionals on the water, or providing pro lifeguarding services at events with his team, "there's only a set amount of weeks to take advantage of good weather" and he makes the most of it.

Whether Sean's defying 35-foot waves in Hawaii or testing to ensure the safety of drinking water across Edmonton, he makes one thing crystal clear: "without clean water, I can't play or do my job."

"Every morning I can, I swim, run, or paddle at Lake Summerside."
"Without clean water, I can’t play or do my job."
“Every year while in Hawaii, we end up rescuing somebody."
"The biggest wave I’ve ever experienced was on Hawaii’s famous North Shore."
"Simply being in the water makes me happy."
"Water all over the world presents its unique challenges so I'm always learning & collecting experiences."