It’s a three-day competition Palm Beach County Lifeguards train for year-round – the United States Lifesaving Association’s Nationals. This year, PBC Ocean Rescue sent eight of its best Lifesavers to run, lift and swim their way to the prize at this year’s USLA Nationals in Daytona Beach.
On August 6th thru 8th, the eight PBC Ocean Rescue members joined about a thousand competitors from around the nation work with specialized equipment in both open- and age-group competitions to show off their ocean rescue skills. This year’s events included American and International Iron Man and Woman, Run-Swim-Run, Taplin Relay, Landline Rescue, and others; one or more PBC Ocean Rescue team members entered in 12 of the 14 events.
Among the 49 teams who competed, PBC Ocean Rescue placed 28th – a feat they still remain proud of, as this year, the team was smaller than in previous years. “We’re really proud of how our small but mighty team did this year,” said North County Training Officer Rob Rogerson. In past years, Palm Beach County has had the honor of placing first in nationals– two times.
According to Steve Kaes, South County Ocean Rescue Training Officer and a competitor, one of the biggest rewards from this competition is the teambuilding it encourages among members. North and South County Ocean Rescue members don’t often get the chance to work together, so this event gives them the opportunity to get to know their fellow lifeguards and work with them, moving 300-pound boats and lifting 50-pound surf skis, among other tasks.
However, perhaps the most important goal of this competition is what every Ocean Rescue member strives to do – help save lives. Training for the USLA local, regional and national competitions ensure the lifeguards are always in top shape when duty calls. The events serve as an exhibition of skills for the competitors, and while the specialized equipment used for the events would not necessarily be used for real-life rescues, working with the higher-grade equipment does allow for more specialized knowledge and increased expertise when working with actual lifesaving equipment.
Congratulations to Tiffany LaCasse, who teamed with Jen Noonan of Pompano Beach Patrol to place third in the women’s Open Surf Rowing Final, the overall best rating for PBC Ocean Rescue at this year’s competition.
Also, congratulations to Tiffany LaCasse and Keshia Pinault, who teamed with two guards from other agencies and placed 13th in the women’s Taplin Relay Finals; to Chase Robertson and Keshia Pinault who competed in International Ironman, Surf Ski, Paddleboard, and Run-Swim-Run, and just missed the finals for those competitions; to Tom O’Connor, who placed high in the semi-final in Swim and Run-Swim-Run; to Steve Kaes, Keisha Pinalt, Russ Geweiler and Tom O’Connor, who were in the se
mi-finals in the Line Pull; to Steve Kaes and Russ Geweiler, who were in the semi-finals in the Open Men’s Row; and to Steve Kaes, Rob Rogerson and Dan Barnickel, who competed with distinction in multiple age group events including: Doubles Row, Rescue Race, Surf Swim, Rescue Board, Run-Swim-Run, Surf Ski, Taplin Relay; and International and American Ironman.
“We learned so much from this event. Rules and equipment standards have changed. So have many race strategies and tactics. With the new equipment we have ordered and budgeted combined with knowledge of our veterans and the enthusiastic younger guards, we expect many more of our department’s guards to join next year’s competition team. Our USLA PBC Chapter fundraisers raised enough in donations to reimburse $150 to each competitor to help offset travel costs and entry fees. We hope to do even better next year,” said Rogerson, who calls this year’s team a “young and growing team.”
On October 27th, PBC Ocean Rescue members will have the opportunity to compete in the Peanut Island Row and Paddle Race. Spectators can cheer from the sidelines as the competitors make their way around the Island.
Photo credit: Candi LaCasse