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Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Behind The Scenes Of Baywatch With Alexandra Paul
The TV series portrayed a cadre of attractive lifeguards who patrolled a crowded recreational beach and encountered all kinds of situations.
Paul recalls a number of real-life situations that intertwined themselves with the reality of filming on the beach and in the Pacific Ocean. "We were shooting a Baywatch episode in Hawaii. In the storyline, my character Stephanie swims out and rescue a drowning man. Turns out this actor did not swim very well in real life, and we were out there a long time getting shots. He got tired treading water and panicked.
The crew boat had already sped off to do other shots and we had been expected to swim to shore but he couldn't. Luckily, I was a junior lifeguard so I really did know how to get him in. The actor swore I saved his life. I certainly saved his reputation, as I never breathed a word to anyone that he had gotten into trouble out there.
But that situation was not a solitary incident. "Everyone assumed Baywatch had stunt people do the rescues, so actors thought it was OK to lie in the audition and say they could swim. 99% of the time, however, we actors did the rescues ourselves as - also contrary to popular belief - Baywatch did not have a big budget. After the first season, when a guest star said she could swim when she could not, the casting directors made sure to be more clear about how important it was to be able to deal with the ocean. But actors are desperate to work, so they would still hedge the truth, as was the case with the actor I had to swim in Season 6.
For the physically talented former California lifeguard, this role played to her strengths. "Because I loved being in the water so much, I would beg for Stephanie to have more rescue scenes. Yasmine Bleeth, who played my sister Caroline, hated doing water work and would tell the producers to give her rescues to me. It was a running competition between David Chokachi (Cody) and me about who got more rescues."
We asked Alexandra Paul about her years on the show:
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Where was the series filmed?
Alexandra Paul: The shows were mostly filmed at Will Rogers State Beach in Santa Monica at Temescal Canyon [in Southern California]. A set was added on to the lifeguard headquarters there, so we shot right next to the real lifeguards on duty. Their part had reflective windows so the camera could not see in.
We also sometimes shot in Long Beach and in Malibu. Several episodes of rescues were combined into one day -we would go out on a boat and film them one after another so that we did not have to deal with drying off for scenes when we are supposed to be dry.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Was it filmed year-round? In other words, did you have to swim in the winter months in the Pacific)?
Alexandra Paul: During my first year on the show, I was in the water December 14th shooting a sequence where I could not wear a wetsuit [when the average water temperature is 57°F (14°C)]. Luckily, Hasselhoff kept me laughing so hard it helped me stay warm. After that, the producers decided to start earlier so we could end by November. The show shot only 5 months of the year, which was very different from the network shows, which shot the same amount of episodes in 8 months. That is because Baywatch was mostly set outdoors. This meant minimal lighting set ups so we were able get through scenes quickly. We also had a joke that if the take was in focus the director would move on to the next set up, and it was pretty much true: two takes max, that was what we got. It was a no-frills operation, but the crew and cast were super professional and worked together like a well-oiled machine.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How did you deal with the cold?
Alexandra Paul: With a smile. Not a single actor ever complained. There was a rule that actors could not wear jackets in scenes unless our character was coming to or leaving work. They wanted us in bathing suits as much as possible. Which meant that sometimes it was cold in and out of the water. Actors were expected to be camera ready as soon as it got light enough outside so it was often chilly on the beach, but actors are used to being in all sorts of weather. I was just grateful there were never any night shoots. Those are really hard on me, filming from 7 pm to 7 am. Give me a cold ocean any day! The crew was so expert at keeping us warm when we got out of the water, that it was never a problem. My first year being in the Santa Monica Bay I got a really bad cough, but it boosted my immune system against the pollution for the rest of my seasons on the show. The year after I left the show, I started training for an Ironman, so I swam in that water even more often.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did you encounter any marine life (e.g., stings from jellyfish, sighting of sharks, encounters with dolphins)?
Alexandra Paul: Nothing dangerous - mostly amazing times on the ocean filming and yes dolphins. In the scene where my character's dead body is being transported by canoe to shore, dolphins joined us in the scene, that was cool. One time the rains mucked up the water quality, so we had to move down to Long Beach, but there was so much styrofoam floating on the water there, we had to cancel the whole day. It was just styrofoam everywhere, very scary. My friend John Nelson was shooting some scenes down there and he had to out-swim a sewage spill. Nicole Eggert and I found a body with a gunshot wound washed ashore on the beach. That was weird.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did you train by swimming or do anything special to keep in shape for this role?
Alexandra Paul: I kept in shape by going to Gold's Gym in Venice every morning at 4 am - doing an hour of cardio and maybe weights - so I could be on the set by 6 am. Hasselhoff also got up early to work out. He is very disciplined.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did you wear a special swimsuit?
Alexandra Paul: After my first season, the producers realized the suit was not really made for my body type, and they allowed me to wear a different style of red suit, more athletic looking and with less cleavage. Then they began finding styles that fit each woman best.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why were you selected for this role? How did you get the job? You obviously demonstrated your swimming prowess at some point.
Alexandra Paul: I auditioned. Greg Bonann, one of the producers, swam at the same pool as I and had heard that I was a good swimmer, so he called me in. I auditioned for the parts Pamela Anderson and Nicole Eggert eventually got. I was not right for either role obviously, so the producers decided to write a part for me, which was nice. They liked me because I was tall and athletic. Hasselhoff is very tall and they thought I would make a good girlfriend for him. I got to choose my character's name and her personality. Holden was the last name of my math teacher in high school and he was a type A, competitive person who was slightly intimidating and very passionate about his job, so I thought it was apt, since Stephanie Holden was that way. I was at a time in my life when I wanted to work on playing a strong character, not a nice girl next door like I had been doing for 10 years, so I requested she have an edge.
Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming
2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE
The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.
The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.
The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.
Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.
The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.
"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."
Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."
The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme
Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]
Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland
Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance
Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony
Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute
The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:
* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year
For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:
* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference
Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Swim Across the English Channel...
Who else is looking for a qualified open water swimming coach to help them swim across the English Channel?Chloë McCardel is a 6-time English Channel Swimmer who inspires and instructs. Access featured content by Chloë in this month's issue of the Open Water Swimming Magazine. Published monthly by WOWSA, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a digital, interactive publication made available exclusively to WOWSA members. See what you've been missing! Become a WOWSA member today!
Open Water Swimming Magazine
Open Water Swimming MagazineThe Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.
WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...
The Other Shore
The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.
2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac
An Almanac for Open Water SwimmingAn almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.
This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.
But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.
In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...
Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.