Lifeguards from Mastic to Montauk gathered at East Hampton Main Beach on Thursday to compete in the annual East Hampton Main Beach Ocean Lifeguard Tournament, a summer tradition that gives the guards a chance to show off their athletic prowess and lifesaving skills in the surf and on the sand.
The powerhouse Smith Point Park ‘A’ team finished first among the eight men’s teams, defending its title from last year, while the East Hampton Town ‘A’ team was first among the five women’s teams. In the men’s competition, Smith Point (61 points) beat out Fire Island (51 points). The East Hampton Town ‘A’ team and Westhampton (also known as the Smith Point ‘B’ team, with guards mostly from Cupsogue Beach) finished tied for third with 46.5 points each. The East Hampton Village ‘A’ team was fifth (39), followed by Southampton Town ‘A’ (31.5), East Hampton Town ‘B’ (22.5) and East Hampton Village ‘B’ (10). In the women’s division, the Southampton Town team was second (24 points) followed by Smith Point (23), East Hampton Village ‘A’ (16) and East Hampton Town ‘B’ (15).
Southampton Town’s teams can include lifeguards from a variety of beaches, including Ponquogue and Tiana in Hampton Bays, Sagg Main in Sagaponack and others. East Hampton Town teams include guards from beaches such as Indian Wells and Atlantic in Amagansett, Kirk Park, South Edison and Ditch Plains in Montauk, and even area bay beaches like East Lake, Albert’s and Maidstone Park. East Hampton Village guards hail from Georgica, Main Beach and Two-Mile Hollow.
The lifeguards competed in seven events designed to test their stamina, strength and endurance on the land and in the water. The tournament started with a distance swim and distance run. Trevor Mott of the East Hampton Town ‘A’ team, who is also one of the top swimmers on the East Hampton varsity boys swim team, won the distance swim among men, while Anne Fici of Smith Point was the top female finisher in the swim. In the distance run, Billy Sweezey of Fire Island was first, while Kira Garry of East Hampton Town’s ‘A’ team was the top female in the run, and was fifth overall.
Smith Point won the landline rescue, while Westhampton was second, Fire Island was third and East Hampton Town ‘A’ was fourth. The landline rescue is a team event in which one lifeguard plays the role of “victim” and is brought to safety by another guard, who swims out with a flotation device called a torp, which is attached to a long rope and is then pulled back to shore by the rest of the guards on the beach.
The rescue board relay was a dead heat for first between Fire Island and East Hampton Town ‘A’, with Sweezey of Fire Island and Peter Johann of East Hampton making for a thrilling finish. Smith Point won the sprint relay, with Westhampton taking second, followed by Southampton Town ‘A’ and East Hampton Town ‘A.’ Fire Island was first in the run-swim-run relay, followed by Smith Point, Westhampton and East Hampton Town ‘A.’ In the final event of the day, beach flags, East Hampton Village prevailed with Scott McGinnis winning for the men. Smith Point took second, while Westhampton was third and East Hampton Town ‘A’ was fourth. Beach flags is best described as a lifeguard’s version of musical chairs, where small rubber sticks are stuck in a line on the sand and the lifeguards lie belly down in the sand facing away from the sticks. When the whistle blows, they hop up, turn around, sprint to the sticks and must dive and pick one up. There is always one fewer stick than lifeguards and after a process of elimination whoever claims the last stick wins.
The East Hampton Town ‘A’ women’s team won by virtue of taking either first or second in all but one event, the distance swim. They were first in the distance run, thanks to Garry, and also won the rescue board relay. In beach flags, the team took first and second, with Lucy Kolhoff winning and Amanda Calabrese taking second. Both girls are rookie guards.
Southampton edged Smith Point by just one point to finish second overall, winning the landline rescue while taking second in both the rescue board relay and distance swim. Smith Point won the distance swim, sprint relay and run-swim-run, but did not earn any points in the landline rescue or rescue board relay.