Maybe the Smith Point lifeguards should ask the Rehoboth Beach lifeguards to stay home next year.
For the second year in a row, the team from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, won the Joseph W. Dooley Long Island Lifeguard Championship on Monday at Smith Point Beach in Mastic Beach. The home team placed second.
Fire Island also competed and finished third, Jones Beach placed fourth and Westhampton finished fifth followed by East Hampton and Long Beach in sixth and seventh places, respectively.
Bob Kolar, assistant chief lifeguard of Suffolk County Parks and director of the tournament, said Rehoboth Beach is invited to the Long Island tournament each year to give Smith Point and the rest of the Long Island teams some competition. Smith Point won the title in 2008.
“They’re one of the top teams in the nation,” he said of Rehobeth. “[Smith Point] was winning pretty easily so we invited them up for it. They’re one of the few teams who can hang with us. They’ve been coming up for years now.”
“We want to compete against the best,” Jim Dooley, chief lifeguard of Suffolk County parks, explained. “The main goal of the year is to repeat as champions. Not only is Rehobeth a great team but they’re a class act. We’re not disappointed at any level. I thought our competitors competed at an outstanding level.”
Dooley said it was a great day for the tournament. Usually the surf is up 3 to 5 feet, and has been as high as 8 to 10 feet in past tournaments, but the surf on Monday was practically flat when competition began at 10 a.m.
“We probably had some of the best competition in the country,” Dooley said. “There were over 10 national champions competing in today’s events and bringing that right to Long Island is pretty impressive.”
Of the eight events on the day, Rehobeth Beach placed first in three of them: the distance swim, land line rescue and run-swim-run. They placed second in the double yoke, surfboard relay and beach flags events. Chris Pohlot of Smith Point won the 2K run in 7:34 while Westhampton’s Rob Krause placed second. Smith Point also won the 4x100-meter relay and one of its members, Garrett Thibodeau, won the beach flags event.
Zack Coleman of Smith Point placed third in the distance swim. Westhampton took third place in the land line rescue and 4x100. And East Hampton placed third in the run-swim-run.
All of the teams competing in the tournament on Monday were gearing up for the national tournament, which will be held August 5 to 7 in Huntington Beach, California. Smith Point won the national event four years in a row, from 2005 to 2008. Almost 90 teams from all over the country will be heading to California to compete.
“We’re bringing a strong team to nationals. Many of the competitors from today are going,” Dooley said. “These tournaments are good public relation events because they showcase the outstanding skills needed to be an ocean lifeguard.”