Skills Are Honed In Tournaments

McGeehan: ‘I’m amazed by the talent here’
Paige Duca, at left, outdueled a Maryland competitor in the mile run at Sandy Hook’s all-woman lifeguard tournament last week. Kathy McGeehan

East Hampton’s female lifeguards repeated as the third-place finisher in a regional all-woman tournament at Sandy Hook, N.J., last week, though John McGeehan, who went down with the 12-person team, said that “this year the tournament was considerably more competitive — we did better in every event.”

Meanwhile, the junior lifeguard tournament at Amagansett’s Indian Wells Beach went off with just one hitch this past weekend despite Saturday’s at-times heavy rain. The only event that had to be scratched was Sunday’s four-person landline rescue, John Ryan Jr. said. “By the time we got to it, the surf had picked up and there was a sweep too — it would have just been a mess of tangled lines.”

The junior lifeguards, he said, in reply to a question, run through pretty much the same series of events as do their older certified counterparts — the distance run, distance swim, paddleboard relay, run-swim-run, Iron Guard (swim, run, and paddle), torpedo rescue, paddleboard rescue, 4-by-100 sprint relay, the aforementioned landline rescue, and beach flags, a musical chairs event that leaves the final two contestants vying for possession of a stick in the sand 25 yards away.

“This year,” Ryan said, “we’ve had about 300 9 through 4-year-olds in the program. Basically, we’ve been teaching them about ocean awareness and safety. . . . The junior and senior lifeguards can only get better from participating in these competitions.”

A combined senior and junior team from here left for Virginia Beach, Va., earlier this week for a four-day national lifeguard tournament there that’s to end Saturday.

As for the recent all-woman tournament at Sandy Hook, McGeehan said “there were teams from Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, of course, and Long Island. We used to go all the time, but then there was a long break. This is the second time we’ve gone in recent years, and we’ll keep going each year from now on.”

McGeehan said the Long Branch, N.J., team placed first, and that the Sea Girt, N.J., team was the runner-up. “By finishing third we beat a lot of big beaches, including Jones Beach, Long Beach, and Smith Point.”

Lucy Kohlhoff won the beach flags, Amanda Calabrese won the run-paddle-run, Paige Duca won the mile run, and Kohlhoff, Calabrese, Katrina Garry, and Duca won the 4-by-100 sprint relay.

“Katrina [who is to join her older sister Kira at Yale in the fall] is our team’s coach — she deserves all the credit,” said McGeehan, who added that “Paige Duca won the mile in a photo finish. She beat a woman from Maryland. They were like thoroughbreds!”

“We won the 4-by-100 by maybe one stride,” he added. Duca, a Sacred Heart Academy student who is an all-American steeplechase runner, anchored that relay.

“She’s looking at big schools,” said McGeehan. “Florida, U.V.A., Wake Forest. . . .”

McGeehan has provided his own ocean dory so that Lucy Mullin and Melanie Mackin have been able to practice for the dory race, one of the tournament’s dozen events. They placed fifth in that at Sandy Hook.

“It’s been a pleasure to have been associated with these girls — I’m amazed by the talent we have here,” McGeehan said.

John Ryan Jr. said he was happy that East Hampton Town’s supervisor, Larry Cantwell, had stopped by at the junior lifeguard tournament. “They were all standing around in the rain like penguins when he told them the last time he’d been to Indian Wells was for a polar bear plunge. Actually, although it was cold, the water was a whole lot warmer.”

“I told all of them on Sunday that I was in awe of their abilities, and that the toughest thing for them was making the decision to step up onto the starting line and that the glory lay in finishing.”

“We had a barbecue on Sunday,” Ryan continued. “Artie Seekamp [of Brent’s] supplied the hot dogs. Also Kevin Costner came down. Somebody spotted him when they were doing the beach flags on Sunday.”

As for the girls’ third-place finish, Ryan said, “It was phenomenal — they worked hard. These competitions are great for honing their skills. As a result, they become more fit and our organization becomes stronger and safer.”

John Ryan Jr. said he’s been impressed by the abilities and grit of East Hampton’s junior lifeguards, who range in age from 9 to 14. Above, the younger ones vied in the torpedo rescue. Below, Dances With Lifeguards: Kevin Costner watched some of Sunday’s junior lifeguard tournament events at Amagansett’s Indian Wells Beach. With him were Scott Barter, Pat Ryan, Mae Mougin, and Elizabeth Ryan O’Dwyer. Durell Godfrey and Lori Mamay Photos