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Whether you are new to RI or have lived here your entire life, most will agree that Rhode Island has some of the most incredible beaches on the east coast, perhaps the entire USA. These amazing beaches range from cove type beaches (which are great for families and have little to no surf) to surf beaches, which attract tons of beach goers, surfers, photographers, and nature lovers. The surf beaches do have added risk due to potentially high surf, dangerous undertow at times, and the high volume of people on the beach itself. The safety of the surf and the cove beaches is just one of the many responsibilities of the lifeguard. A lifeguard could be described as the emergency room doctor of the beach – someone who is skilled and trained at a wide range of skill sets. He or she must be well trained in rescue techniques, first aid safety, crowd control, and must maintain a certain level of physical fitness. These trained lifeguards on any given day will be asked to treat a jellyfish sting or rescue an inexperienced swimmer close to shore or perhaps further out in the water.
And in Rhode Island every year since I can remember, there is the Rhode Island Lifeguard Tournament showcasing just how capable your lifeguards are at protecting you and your family at our beaches.
The Rhode Island Lifeguard Tournament starts tonight at Narragansett Town Beach. From there, the tournament travels to 5 other beaches in 5 nights – Westerly Town Beach on Tuesday, Scarborough Beach on Wednesday, 2nd Beach in Newport on Thursday, Roger Wheeler Beach on Friday, and the final night of competition Saturday at Misquamicut Beach. There are 8 competing teams this year representing Newport, Narragansett, Middletown, Westerly areas state and town beaches. In addition, there is an exhibition team of former lifeguards who also compete. A complete list of the teams is on the official Facebook page of the event – RI Lifeguard Tournament. The events, according to RI Lifeguard Tournament spokesman Dave Hoffer, are “free for the public” and showcase the “physical capabilities and rescue skills of the guards.” Some of those events include: rescues and relays, mile events such as swimming, paddling, and running, and a popular local favorites “King, Queen, and Beach Flag.” I asked Dave Hoffer why the events are being held at night, to which he replied “our guards have a responsibility to guard the beaches during the day. The safety of the beach is a lifeguard’s utmost concern. They work all day protecting the beaches so we scheduled the events to be after work, where they can feel free to play at night.”
Dave also mentioned that at the Lifeguard Banquet following the events, two special tribute awards are presented to worthy participants who embody “the spirit of the tournament.” The two awards are named the Rob Calvino Award and the Kyle Rocha Award. Calvino was a lifeguard at Narragansett Town Beach. Rocha was a lifeguard at Scarborough Beach. The Rhode Island Lifeguard Tournament starts each night at 6:45. Come out and support the lifeguards of your favorite beach and watch them as run, swim, and paddle their way to becoming the champions of the 2015 Rhode Island Lifeguard Tournament.