The sun was just peeking above the horizon at Virginia Beach when I walked out of the hotel, across the boardwalk and over to the Team Texas tent.
Several of the lifeguards from Galveston and South Padre Island were warming up for the first race of the day of the United States Lifesaving Association National Lifeguard Championships.
Virginia Beach is a wonderful venue largely because they have made the beach front such a priority. Their spotless beaches are continually re-nourished, and a boardwalk and bike lanes run along the entire area. Each access point has a shower, and there are lots of permanent restrooms.
Periodically along the boardwalk there are sponsored performances and vendor spaces. Police on bikes look professional and courteous and make sure there are no open containers, litter, etc. Most importantly, a staff of almost 200 lifeguards watches from towers that are only about 75 yards apart for miles of beach.
Every year, the best of the best lifeguards and junior guards from around the country meet at a different beach to test their skills. This year, hundreds of junior guards and more than a thousand lifeguards raced, traded work stories and lifesaving techniques, and enjoyed the camaraderie of those few who truly understand the challenges of such a difficult job.
All return renewed and ready to spread newfound and refound enthusiasm and ideas.
After the swim race, there were a number of other events lasting throughout the day. The total competition lasts four days. Team Texas did well this year, particularly in the age group (older than 30) events, but the shining stars were our rowing team of Caitlin Fairhurst and Nikki Harclerode who, competing together for the first time, took an unheard of and unprecedented fourth place in the country in the open division. They and the rest of the team represented Galveston really well.
Here are a few of the more notable results:
• Junior Guard Ironguard: Thomas Farmer, 14th, Kaiya Shea Kirchner, 10th;
• Beach Flags juniors: Thomas Farmer, fourth;
• Beach Run juniors: Thomas Farmer, 11th;
• Beach Run (2K in thick sand), age group — Amie Hufton, first; Jeff Lewis, first; Klayre Lewis, 35-39, second; Loree Pryor, third; Peter Davis, third; Kevin Anderson, eighth;
• American Iron Person (run-swim-paddle), age group — Amie Hufton, sixth; Loree Pryor, seventh;
• Beach Flags (sand sprints), age group — Kevin Anderson, fifth; Peter Davis, seventh;
• Rescue Board Race, age group — Peter Davis, fourth; Kevin Anderson, fourth; Amie Hufton, sixth; Loree Pryor, seventh; Jeff Lewis, ninth;
• Ironman (run, swim, paddle, surf-ski), age group — Amie Hufton, third; Kevin Anderson, third; Peter Davis, third;
• Run-Swim-Run, age group — Klayre Lewis, third; Amie Hufton, fourth; Jeff Lewis, fourth; Loree Pryor, fifth; Kevin Anderso, eighth; Peter Davis, ninth;
• Surf boat — Caitlin Fairhurst/Nikki Harclerode, open female, fourth;
• Surf Swim (400 meters) — Amie Hufton, sixth; Kevin Anderson, sixth; Jeff Lewis, sixth; Loree Pryor, eighth; Peter Davis, ninth;
• Surf Ski (like an ocean kayak) — Amie Hufton, 30-34 female, third; Kevin Anderson, 35-39 male, third; Peter Davis, 45-49 male, third.