The World Lifesaving Championships proved to be one of the toughest events for all involved, including a pair of Hampton Lifeguard Association guards in Chasen Dubs and Ryan Paroz.
When Dubs and Paroz arrived in Adelaide, Australia, in the days leading up to the championships—which began November 22, Thanksgiving, and finished on November 26—there were clear blue skies and comfortable temperatures. It was a mirage though, as the region was in between weather systems that eventually brought considerably lower temperatures, winds in excess of 70 miles per hour, and high tidal surges that washed out the beach-front venue, its viewing stands and event courses. The first day of competition, which Dubs and the rest of the youth teams were supposed to start on the beach, was postponed to the following day. Conditions improved quite a bit for the start of competition, but waves were still at five to six feet and temperatures were still below normal.
Despite the tough conditions, Dubs and the U.S. Lifesaving Association still saw success. Dubs, Jeff Hass, Mark Modzelewski and Zane Booth placed third in the 4x100-meter relay, marking the first time a USLA youth team has made the podium at Worlds. Dubs went on to place ninth in the 90-meter beach sprint and 13th in the beach flags later that day.
The second day of competition was in the ocean. Dubs, a part-time East Hampton resident who lives full time in Florida, placed seventh in the surf race and joined Hass, Modzelewski and Booth once again in the oceanman relay, otherwise known as the taplin relay, which is when a team of four competitors (swimmer, board paddler, surf ski paddler, runner) cover the course in a sequence of legs determined by draw at the start of each world championship. With Dubs as the swimmer, Booth on the paddle board, Modzelewski on the surf ski and Hass as the runner, the foursome finished seventh, but Dubs wasn’t feeling well right after the race and had to be taken to the medical tent, where it was found that he had hypothermia. He was eventually forced to miss the rest of his ocean events, which included the individual oceanman, tube rescue and board rescue. He took the day off to rest and recuperate and get ready for days three and four in the pool, the main events for him with USLA.
Dubs bounced back well from his hypothermia episode and placed 15th in the 100-meter manikin carry with fins—where the competitor swims the prescribed distance with fins on and then dives to recover a submerged manikin and must bring it to the surface within 10 meters of the turning edge. He also placed 15th in the 200-meter super lifesaver, where the competitor swims 75 meters freestyle and then dives to recover a submerged manikin. The competitor surfaces the manikin within 5 meters of the pick-up line and carries it to the turning edge. After touching the wall the competitor releases the manikin. Then, in the water, the competitor dons fins and rescue tube within 5 meters of the turning edge and swims 50 meters freestyle. After touching the wall the competitor fixes the rescue tube around a floating manikin within 5 meters of the turning edge and tows it to touch the finish edge of the pool.
Dubs also placed ninth in both the 4x25-meter manikin relay and 4x50-meter medley relay and 11th in the 4x50-meter obstacle relay with Booth, Malcom Wilkie and Danny Gonzales.
“Chasen couldn’t be prouder to have had the opportunity to stand on the podium for USA and his teammates,” Christopher Dubs, Chasen’s father, said. “To feel the warmth of nations competing against one another while expressing sportsmanship and humility in their unbelievable talents. Many world records were shattered at this World Championship, with stronger competition than ever before seen.”
While Dubs and the youth teams started their competition on the beach, Paroz, an Australia native, and the rest of the open competitors spent the first three days in the pool. As team captain of the Simulated Emergency Response Competition, or SERC, Paroz and the U.S. placed sixth out of 29 teams. SERC tests the initiative, judgment, knowledge, and abilities of four lifesavers who, acting as a team, apply lifesaving skills in a simulated emergency situation unknown to them prior to the start. This competition is judged within a 2-minute time limit. All teams respond to the identical situation and are evaluated by the same judges.
Paroz was also a part of three different relay events, the 4x50-meter relay, in which the U.S. placed 13th, the 4x50-meter obstacle relay, in which the U.S. placed 15th, and the 4x25-meter manikin relay, in which the U.S. was disqualified. On the second day of racing in the pool, Paroz suffered a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in one of his hands, but with a bunch of competitions still to go, Paroz grinded through the injury.
Paroz reached the finals in each of his individual ocean events; ninth in the surf ski, 10th in the board race and 16th in the beach flags. He placed fifth with his partner, Hayden Hemmens, in the board rescue, 12th in the 4x90-meter beach relay, fourth in the oceanman relay and sixth in the mixed lifesaver.
Despite suffering an injury that has forced him to take the next eight weeks off from training and competition, Paroz enjoyed his time at his first Worlds.
“Overall I loved the experience of the Lifesaving World Championships and the opportunities both United States Lifeguard Association and Hamptons Lifeguard Association have given me,” he said. “Overall the team raced well, along with a few key standout performances with my roommate, Hayden Hemmens, winning silver in the surf race, and then combining with myself in board rescue to get fifth, and finally joining Tim Burdiak and Nader Golshahr to get fourth in the male taplin. I’m excited to bring back the knowledge I’ve learned to help the junior guards at HLA over the summer.
“I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has helped myself, HLA and USLA over the years,” he added.