Hometown life-savers outlast the competition
By Max Sullivan
Hampton Union, August 6, 2015
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Seacoast area lifeguards race into the water with paddleboards Wednesday as part of the annual Northern New England Lifesaving Competition event held at Hampton Beach.
[Rich Beauchesne photo]
HAMPTON — Hampton Beach lifeguards took first place in the annual Northern New England Lifesaving Championships for the second year in a row, this time on their own beach.
Hampton Beach scored 115.5 points over the course of 16 events held from 9 a.m. to roughly 4 p.m. Ogunquit, Maine, lifeguards came in second with 99 points, followed by Salisbury, Mass., with 41.5 points. Five crews total competed.
Events included soft sand runs, paddleboard and surf rescues, 500 meter swims and 4x100 relays. First place scores earn teams five points.
The rescue events involved volunteer “victims” floating out in the surf. Competitors swam out to them and raced back with the “rescued” volunteer.
Jimmy Donahue, Hampton Beach chief lifeguard, said this was the first lifeguard competition in roughly 20 years to be held in Hampton. Most years, it’s been in Ogunquit, he said.
The competition is a fun reward for the lifeguards who train hard every day to stay in shape, Donahue said. He said he recalled partaking in competitions in the 1970s when he was in his 40s. He misses the fun, he said.
“All those hard, hard workouts every single morning, and it pays off when we have a competition like this where we can excel at most of the events,” Donahue said. “I’m really proud of this.”
For lifeguards, the day brings out their competitive nature, though all in good spirit.
C.J. Cronin of the Salisbury lifeguards said it’s “important to do well” at Hampton Beach since his crew has a rivalry with Hampton, two towns away.
Hampton Beach’s opponents said the home team definitely had a bit of an advantage. Xander Lumenello, 16, of the Ogunquit lifeguards, said Hampton Beach has especially soft sand, and the Hampton lifeguards are used to running in it. That helped in the two-mile run, added this year, he said.
Patrick Carignan, a Hampton Beach Lifeguard, gets ready for the surf rescue open event as part of the Northern New England Lifesaving Championship event at Hampton Beach on Wednesday. [Rich Beauchesne photo]
However, even for the teams who fell behind the now back-to-back champions, the competition is all fun.
“It’s a beautiful day to come out and compete and just have a good time with fellow lifeguards," Cronin said.
“It’s been a blast so far. Oh my goodness,” said Griffin Simmons, 18, of the Ogunquit lifeguards.
Dan Ryan, 19-year veteran of the Hampton Beach lifeguards, said the competition is a good reminder to beachgoers of what it takes to be a lifeguard and how competent the lifesavers are that keep them safe. The beach was packed Wednesday, many standing outside event cones marking where the lifeguards ran, dived and swam.
“I think anytime people have confidence in emergency services, that’s a good thing,” Ryan said. “People should be confident in us, and (the competition) is a good way for them to see that.”