The Fenwick Island Beach Patrol’s lifeguard competition team garnered top finishes in five events, in competition on July 11, and qualified for the national championships in those five events.
The FIBP participated in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Lifesaving Championships at Rehoboth Beach, with teams from New York to Virginia comprising more than 250 competitors. The lifeguards tested their skills in a variety of running, swimming and lifesaving events. This event was a qualifier for the United States Lifeguard Championships, which is being held this year in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“Our lifeguards put forth a very impressive effort,” said FIBP Capt. Tim Ferry.
Top finishers for the FIBP on July 11 were:
• Kaitlin Kernan and Kelly Gonzalez, who took fourth place in the Surf Rescue Race;
• Stacy Ogden, who took ninth place in the 400 meter swim;
• Ben Gichner, Matt Lewis, Andrew Cordell and Randy Vanderhook, who scored third place in the men’s 4-by-100 relay;
• Ashley Hudson, Kelly Gonzalez, Cara Eshbach, Kristen Ramey, who took second place in the women’s 4-by-100 relay; and
• Kelly Gonzalez, with first place in Beach Flags; Randy Vanderhook, fifth place in Beach Flags; and Kip Huffman, with seventh place in Beach Flags.
Eight of the guards will be participating in the National Lifesaving Championships in Myrtle Beach, S.C., from Aug. 9 through Aug. 11.
“Our 4-by-100 men’s relay team is also the defending national champions, and they’re looking forward to defending their title,” Ferry said. “We wish all of them the best of luck and know they will represent the Town of Fenwick Island in great fashion.”
Ferry has been a big factor behind the new focus on competition for the FIBP. He brought competition experience with him from his time on the Bethany Beach Beach Patrol and, as a seven-time national champion in the lifeguards’ sprint events, still competes.
Lifeguards in Fenwick Island, and elsewhere on the state’s guarded beaches, train daily — not only to ensure they are in good enough shape to perform rescues — but to keep up with the skills that are designed to be improved through lifeguarding events, both for competition’s sake and to make them the best rescuers they can be.
The FIBP team recently participated in the town’s annual bonfire with T-shirt sales designed to help raise funds for the transportation and other expenses involved in taking the lifeguard teams to competitions around the East Coast and nationwide.
Their next two events will be local ones, however, with competition set to take place at Bethany Beach on Monday, July 30, at 6 p.m. A second competition will come close on its heels, back home in Fenwick Island on Wednesday, Aug. 1, also around 6 p.m.
Local beach-goers and sports fans are being encouraged to come out and cheer on teams from many of the area’s lifeguard squads as they compete in these qualifying rounds for national-level competition and strut their stuff on the sand.
The Fenwick Island team will then head off to the national championships in South Carolina before returning — perhaps as repeating national champions in the 4-by-100 men’s relay — for the final event of the season, in Middlesex, north of South Bethany, on Aug. 16, again at 6 p.m.