The Portuguese President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, acted as a beach lifeguard while in vacations in Algarve. At the beach of Alvor, near Portimão, the President spotted a canoe that turned upside down, and two young girls in difficulties to cope with the strong stream. The head of state was quickly supported by a jet-ski of the local lifeguard service, who helped complete the rescuing task.
Speaking later to the TV channels, the Portuguese President added that the girls should be more careful in the future. Although they were wearing life jackets, handling the sea stream can be quite challenging at a young age, as they were neither able to swim to shore nor to get back to the canoe.
At 71 years old, President Rebelo de Sousa maintains the sporting habits he cultivated through his entire life. A passionate swimmer and formerly a practitioner of bodyboarding, he always lived by the sea, near Lisbon, being able to practice sport daily.
In the late Eighties, he was renowned at Portugal for an unusual idea for an electoral campaign. While running for mayor of Lisbon, Rebelo de Sousa gathered the TV channels for a dive in the Tagus river, right in front of downtown’s Commerce Square, the central square of the Portuguese capital. The move was intended to promote an environmentalist idea of requalification of the riverside; the then-candidate had to face the high levels of pollution that the river carried at the time.
His presidency has been distinguished by a popular attitude of mixing with people, being very frequently on the ground (going throughout the country, whenever he feels his presence could be required or valued) and acting as a commoner. His attitude is downplayed as populism by his critics and praised as genuine by his supporters. Sometimes he demeanour is compared to the unpretentious behaviour usually seen in Scandinavian politicians.
Nothing is missing in Algarve for some great vacations – even a lifeguard Head of State!