Saving lives for a living is serious business, but for a few days last week lifeguards from across the country got together with nothing more than bragging rights on the line.
Virginia Beach was the site of the United States Lifesaving Association’s (USLA) annual Lifeguard Championships, where teams of guards from Hawaii to Florida to New York and everywhere in between (as long as they boast a coast) compete in a variety of events designed to show off their skills both in the water and on the surf.
The Hamptons Lifeguard Association (HLA) brought teams of guards, as it does every year, for both the adult and junior portions of the competition. And while the HLA is always one of the smaller groups at the tournament, it more than held its own against powerhouse teams from Hawaii, California and Florida.
The juniors—who tuned up for the competition a week earlier at the annual Junior Lifeguard Tournament at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett—were particularly impressive. Junior guards from the HLA competed in three different age groups: Group A for ages 13-14, Group B for ages 11-12, and Group C for ages 9-10.
In Group A, HLA guards had several strong finishes. Sophie Kolhoff won the beach flags event for the girls, while Sutton Lynch was third and Andrew Wilson took fifth in the boys’ version of the event. In the boys distance run, Wilson was third while Nina Piacentine was eighth among girls. In the Ironguard competition, where individuals complete a swim, run and rescue board paddle, Nakai Kulik finished sixth and T.J. Calabrese took ninth. Calabrese was also seventh in the rescue board race.
HLA guards had their best showing in the ‘B’ group. They swept the beach flags event with Max Bahi winning the boys race and Lila Ferraro taking first for the girls. Margot Varrichio was third among girls. In the girls’ distance run, Evie Purcell was second while Caroline Oakland and Isabella Swanson finished fourth and fifth, respectively, and Molly Mamay took seventh. In the boys’ distance run, Bahi, Ethan McCormac and Thomas Treadwell finished fourth through sixth, respectively.
Chasen Dubs had several strong finishes in the boys’ events, winning the Ironguard competition and the rescue board race while also taking second in the distance swim and fourth in the run-swim-run.
Maggie Purcell was the standout for the girls, winning the run-swim-run, taking third in the rescue board race, second in the distance swim and fourth in the Ironguard competition. Isabella Swanson was second in the Ironguard competition and fourth in the rescue board race, while Oakland was fourth in the run-swim-run and sixth in the distance swim. Julia Brierley was sixth in the rescue board race, while Oakland and Dubs teamed up for a sixth-place finish in the rescue race. Swanson, Olivia Brabant, Maggie Purcell, Oakland and Dubs teamed up to take third in the swim relay.
In the ‘C’ group, Bella Tarbet won the girls beach flags while Sophia Swanson took second in the distance run. Also, Tarbet finished third and Olivia Duca came in fifth. Swanson was fifth in the distance swim, and also took fourth in the Ironguard competition, while Joey Badilla was fifth among boys in the Ironguard. Swanson also was fourth in the rescue board race, and the HLA team of Swanson, Darcy McFarland, Kiara Bailey-Williams, Caroline Brown and Catalina Badilla took fourth place honors in the swim relay.
HLA’s adult team also put in a strong showing: Paige Duca won the open 2K beach run and Alyssa Bahel finished eighth; Craig Brierley won the men’s beach flags (ages 45-49) while John Ryan Jr. was fifth; Lucy Kolhoff, Amanda Calabrese, Katrina Garry and Duca finished fourth in the 4×100 relay; and Calabrese was sixth in open women’s beach flags and took 11th place in both the open rescue board race and Ironguard competition.
Additionally: Lucy Kolhoff was third in open women’s beach flags while Lucy Mullin was seventh; John McGeehan was second in both men’s beach flags and the surf boat race (ages 60-64); Trevor Mott finished 11th in the men’s open run-swim-run; Kathleen Pia took fourth in the women’s swim race (ages 50-54); and Dominic Kulik took fifth among men (ages 50-54) in the swim race and was followed by T.J. Calabrese.