Greenbrier State Park hosts lifeguard competition

August 07, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

BOONSBORO -- It didn't take long for the lifeguards from Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County to take an early lead Wednesday during the annual Maryland Park Service Lifeguard Competition at Greenbrier State Park.

George Bragdon finished first in the mile run, and Meghan Heil left everyone -- including the men -- in her wake during the half-mile swim. Heil, a swimmer at James Madison University, denied that she was brought in as a ringer.

"I was just having fun," she said. "I swam my regular stroke and tried not to look up."

Wednesday marked the first time that Greenbrier State Park hosted the competition, said Park Ranger Erin Thomas, whose job includes managing Greenbrier's beaches. Forty-two lifeguards from five state parks -- Cunningham Falls, Greenbrier, Gunpowder Falls, Rocky Gap and Sandy Point -- competed in the event.

Greenbrier emerged as the overall winner.

"It's just a great way to reward the lifeguards for a job well done all season," Thomas said. "It also lets them put their skills to the test."


In addition to competing in the mile run and half-mile swim, the lifeguards tested their skills treading water, navigating an obstacle course and participating in an agility event.

Thomas said the contestants competed as teams, but the top three finalists in each event were awarded $50 for first place, $20 for second place and $10 for third place. The prizes were courtesy of the Friends of Greenbrier State Park, she said.

Many of the lifeguards said they trained to prepare for the competition.

"We trained an hour every morning before we (went to work)," said Melanie Bishoff, a Greenbrier lifeguard. "It's our park. It's pretty cool they're having the competition here."

Bragdon said the events came pretty close to simulating the duties that lifeguards are required to do every day.

"We take it pretty seriously," Bragdon said. "We have more than a mile of shoreline (at Sandy Point) ... Being able to run and swim is really important."

Greenbrier State Park Manager Dan Spedden said the lifeguards were rotated between the events to ensure that park visitors were protected.

How they finished

First Place: Greenbrier State Park

Second Place: Gunpowder Falls State Park

Third Place: Sandy Point State Park

Top Male Competitor: Rob Wise, Rocky Gap State Park

Top Female Competitor: Hannah Petro, Greenbrier State Park

How the top Greenbrier lifeguards finished

Women's 1-mile run: Becca Ahalt, second; Hannah Crosby, third.

Men's half-mile swim: Seth Chapelle, third.

Women's beach flags: Hannah Petro, first; Melanie Bishoff, third.

Men's water survival challenge: Seth Chapelle, second; Matt Sloan, third.

Women's water survival challenge: Erin Donoghue, third.

Men's ultimate challenge obstacle course: John Richwine, second.

Women's ultimate challenge obstacle course: Hannah Petro, first; Becca Ahalt, third.

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