Published: August 25, 2005 8:00 PM
By EMILY WONG. STAFF WRITER
The lifeguards at Smith Point are tops in the country,
winning their first national title, and one team member is joining the U.S.
team that will be competing next year in the World Lifesaving Championships in
The Smith Point team took first place overall at the U.S. Lifesaving
Association Tournament last week in Virginia Beach, Va.
And team member Matt Simonton, who placed first in the men’s national
sprint competition, was named to the U.S. team selected for the international
competition in February.
“It’s definitely an honor to represent the country,” said Simonton, 28, a
5-foot-9, 185-pound former football player. “But it’s also an honor to take
what Smith Point represents over to Australia.”
The Smith Point lifeguards, who have won the regional lifeguard competition
for the past three years, claimed their first national title.
“We put everything together this year,” said Tim Delaney, chief lifeguard
for Suffolk County Parks. “We’ve gotten second before but this year everyone
Simonton, of Ridge, repeated as No. 1 in the men’s national sprint
competition this year after winning last year’s title. He will be the first
Long Island representative at the world championships.
“Everyone’s so excited,” he said of his nomination to the U.S. team. “If it
weren’t for them I wouldn’t be able to do this. I’m working with the best in
Simonton has been working with the Smith Point lifeguards for 13 years. He
joined the team as another way to stay in shape. Simonton played football for
several years and had a stint in the National Football League, playing for the
“I played eight games in the NFL but I gave that up,” Simonton said. “I
needed a change. It’s time to focus on the beach.”
Training will be a challenge for Simonton, who will focus on beach
sprinting for the U.S. team, because lifeguards in Suffolk County are seasonal
and only work out on the beaches during the summer. Most of his U.S. teammates
“It will take getting on the track and staying in the sand during the
winter,” Simonton said. He also will balance a new teaching job for the
Longwood Central School District this year as a physical education instructor.
The 48 other Smith Point lifeguards said they have looked up to Simonton as
a senior lifeguard and are in awe of his opportunity.
“He’s going against people that are full-time and they have all year to
train for this,” said lifeguard Denise Oehl. “It’s amazing that he’s doing it
three months out of the year and he’s up there with the rest of them.”