Lifeguards get a turn to romp at the shore

Lifeguards get a turn to romp at the shore

Published: July 25, 2005 8:00 PM

John Dunne is a pool lifeguard, not a beach one. But

the East Hampton team was short a competitor, so he was just going to have to


Dunne, 21, steadied himself on the sand. Six or seven others took their

positions. Then they all darted into the Atlantic Ocean’s cool, gray waters.

Minutes later, a strong current had pulled him in the wrong direction.

Someone on a water vehicle stopped him and told him to swim five minutes in the

opposite direction.

“He’s getting killed,” one of his teammates said.

Not that the East Hampton team really expected to win. It had come to the

Long Island Ocean Lifeguard Championship at Smith Point County Park for more

than 10 years without a victory.

Team members didn’t imagine this year would be any different. The focus was

on the Rehoboth Beach, Del., team, which won last year, and Smith Point

lifeguards, who had won nearly every year before.

After everyone else finished, Dunne emerged from the choppy waters and made

a spirited jog toward his team’s post. “He’s still got heart,” East Hampton’s

coach Robby Lambert said. “The kid’s got heart.”

The annual competition is the largest and most important for lifeguards in

Long Island. Teams of 11 or 12 men from the same town compete in eight events.

Lambert said East Hampton’s lack of wins in the tournament isn’t a true

reflection of the team’s rescue skills. He said they made more than 200 rescues

last year and have some of the most dangerous areas to watch.

The Smith Point team won the tournament, with Delaware second. The East

Hampton team tried to be optimistic. There is still Thursday, when they will

host their own invitational against other Long Island teams.

They had lost that for nine years. Then last year, they won.(

July 25, 2005

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