National Lifeguard Championship 2001

For a Day, Their Job is Fun and Games

Published: July 20, 2000 8:00 PM

The long, laboring “pull, pull, pull” strategy successfully

led the Smith Point lifeguard team through at least three early tug-of-war


But in the end, a quick jerk in the final showdown against the Southampton

team cinched Smith Point’s title as “Best Lifeguards” during yesterday’s third

annual Fire Island Lifeguard Tournament at Davis Beach.

“We always come out to win,” said Ron Kister, 24, an eight-year veteran of

the Smith Point team. “Why bother coming out if winning isn’t the goal?”

About 90 lifeguards from throughout Long Island vied in the six-hour

competition for the coveted championship title. The Smith Point team took home

the Fire Island Cup after earning a combined score of 151 points, beating the

second-place Town of Brookhaven North Shore Team by 21 points.

Although many of the guards maintained that the tournament was all in fun,

they couldn’t help but plan strategies, scope out the competition and do

warm-up stretches designed to give them the edge in the 13 land and water

events, which attracted a number of onlookers.

“Normally, there isn’t much to do out here,” said Suzanne Reussffengart,

who came to the beach with her husband, Bruce, and their two children,

Caroline, 6, and Tom, 3, from Manhattan. “I feel good about letting the kids

get in the water with all the lifeguards here.”

Seven teams competed in events ranging from a 1.2-mile ocean swim to a

two-mile run, allowing the guards to test their strength, endurance and speed.

All three of these qualities played a part in winning the women’s distance swim

for Amy DeWitt, who celebrated her 18th birthday yesterday by representing the

Town of Brookhaven South Shore team.

“I was hoping I’d win, but just hoping,” said DeWitt, who’s been swimming

since she was 10. “I was taking in a lot of water, and it made my stomach hurt,

but the win is a great birthday present.”

Winning didn’t matter for Erin Ingraham, 17, whose East Hampton team came

in last during the women’s run-swim-run relay.

“We just wanted to go out and have fun,” Ingraham said. “The tournament is

a chance for us all to just get together. We would have liked to win, but we

were happy we finished.”

July 20, 2000

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