Lifeguards from all over take pride in USLA regionals

Ryan Marshall, DelmarvaNow

Teams from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York come to show off their patrol’s lifeguard skills and build camaraderie among lifeguards in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Coming to their normal spot on the Rehoboth Beach, Teri Riggie noticed something very different Wednesday.

It was the Buffalo, New York resident’s first vacation to the area, but the restricted area and lines of American flags intrigued her.

Riggie walked over and started watching the United States Lifesaving Association Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.

She was enthralled.

“I think it’s awesome,” Riggie said. “Believe it or not, I was a runner — not in the sand — but I explained to her I like watching relays.”

Riggie and 12-year-old Allison Evans picked their favorite colors — green and blue, respectively — and started cheering on the teams as about 300 lifeguards from Virginia up to New York participated in the nine events at the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk between Baltimore and Rehoboth avenues.

Rehoboth Beach has hosted the event about 15 times in its 34-year history, Rehoboth Beach Patrol Captain Kent Buckson said.

Teams from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York come to show off their patrol’s lifeguarding skills and build camaraderie among lifeguards in the Mid-Atlantic region, he said.

“It builds the lifeguard community and shows what lifeguards do — save people,” Buckson said.

The events consisted of a 2-mile beach run, 400-meter surf swim, a swimmer rescue race, landline rescue race, rescue board race, a run-swim-run race, the 4×100 soft sand run relays, beach flags and the surf dash.

The lifeguards want to showcase themselves and the patrol, Buckson said. Most are athletes, so there is a competitive nature and it comes with a lot of pride.

In his second year with the Ocean City patrol, Youcef Belrachid was enjoying the experience in a different way. He’s teaching the rookies this year, and he’s also more confident in his events.

But what it really comes down to is the camaraderie between local patrols.

“I love it because we get to meet so many people from other beach patrols,” Belrachid said. “It’s nice to compete and it’s just a friendly atmosphere around here. Obviously, everyone wants to get first and second and medals, but bottom line at the end of the day, it’s about meeting people, making some new friends and having a good time.”

“Home beach”

No patrol may feel as much pressure as the Rehoboth Beach Patrol, however.

“Home beach, home sand and home ocean,” Zach Abeles said. That’s what makes it special for him in his first year with the Rehoboth Beach Patrol.

Abeles grew up in Hagerstown, Maryland, but has been coming down to Rehoboth Beach for as long as he can remember.

“I’ve seen it in action, but to be in the middle of it … it’s really special,” Abeles said. “We take a lot of pride in this patrol. We take a lot of pride in representing this beach and protecting the lives out here.”

Competition can be tough, especially against the locals with so many teams participating from up and down the Delaware and Maryland coast.

“There’s always rivalries,” Sea Colony lifeguard Dave Grove said.

“It’s friendly rivalries,” fellow lifeguard Julia Wisler chirped in.

“It’s for bragging rights, but at the end of the day we’re all friends,” Grove continued. “We all get along really good and work well together. If it came down to it, they would have our back and we have their back.”

OVERALL RESULTS

Place – Beach Patrol – Points

1 Smith Point 280

2 Rehoboth Beach Patrol 254

3 Long Beach NY 211

4 Sea Colony 175

5 Monmouth 163

6 Dewey Beach Patrol 126

7 Ocean City N.J.109

8 Seagert 100

9 Delaware State Parks 78

10 Fire Island 67

11 Virginia Beach 66

12 Bethany Beach Patrol 65

13 Fenwick Island 64

14 Barnegat Light 52

15 Middle Sex 47

16 Ocean City Md. 47

17 Cape May 22

18 South Bethany 18

19 Spring Lake 7

rmarshall@dmg.gannett.comOn Twitter/Instagram: @ByRyanMarshall

July 11, 2015

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