The 2001 United States Lifesaving Association’s local competition started last week with Long Branch kicking off the start.
Competitors all over Monmouth County traveled to the North Broadway beach to start their road to the national tournament in South Beach, Miami, this year.
Starting things off was the 2-mile beach run, for which racers ran five laps over soft and wet sand.
Pacing the pack for the win was Long Branch’s Tom Standford, who was followed by Ryan Lavender (Belmar), Eric Rollback (Sea Bright) and Paul Looney (Avon).
Next up was the 500-meter open swim. Here, the competitors run into the water and swim out and around preset buoys and then back up to the beach for a short run through the finish line.
Controlling this race was former national champ Matt Nunnally (Bradley Beach), with Monmouth Beach Bathing Pavilion’s Bill Dennis finishing close behind.
Monmouth Beach won another pair of gold and silver medals when Mary McQue and Christin LaRusso placed in the women’s bracket.
Scott Forrester dominated the 500-meter paddleboard race. In this race, the competitors traverse the same course as the swimmers, but each one has to carry a board through to the finish line.
Trailing for second and third were Nunnally and Greg Elzer (Monmouth Beach).
Michelle Davidson (Avon) was the only female to compete among the men, and she finished with a respectable time.
Ending the water events was the open surf boat race, for which a two-man team rows out and around three buoys for three laps, landing on the beach for two turns.
This grueling competition saw some of the best New Jersey has to offer for the event, with former national champs Bill George and Warren Towns (Monmouth Beach) capturing the top prize.
Rounding out the field were Bob Asay and Paul (Bugman) Elyseev, Dave Healy and John McEntee, and Jeff Propert and Eric Constanzo.
The kickoff tournament ended with Natalie and Paul Schibell capturing the women’s and men’s beachflag titles.
The sibling team out-raced and maneuvered through a lengthy men’s and women’s field to start the summer with gold medals.
For beachflags, competitors lie face down, away from the flags in the sand along a rectangular beach course.
Once the officials whistle, they jump up, spin and race to grab a rubber tube that is placed at the other end of the course.
Just like musical chairs, racing continues until there is one winner.