Courtesy of Mike Barrows, Daytona Beach, Florida.

The lifeguards of Monmouth County pulled off one of the greatest upsets in open water swimming history at the 2014 Nautica United States Lifesaving Association National Championships in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

For 27 straight years, the men and women of Los Angeles County [California] ruled the shores of America and demonstrated their dominance at the United States Lifesaving Association National Lifeguard Championships. It was an unprecedented and proud dynasty.

But after a nearly three-decade string of dominating victories, the Southern California lifeguards were upset by their competitors from New Jersey on the East Coast. The Monmouth County Chapter lifeguards who work a number of beaches along the Jersey Shore captured the 2014 USLA National Championships in the intense, multi-disciplined competition that tests all the various lifesaving skills of those who protect and rescue others.

Come 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida, the Los Angeles County Surf Life Saving Association was still dominant, having won the United States Lifeguard Association National Lifesaving Championships 28 times over the past 29 years.

But Monmouth County proved their 2014 USLA victory was no fluke.

After four days of heated competition among nearly 1,000 lifeguards from 60 chapters around the country, the Monmouth County lifeguards won the Howard Lee Trophy for the second time – over LA County again: 730.5 points to 637.5 points, both far ahead of third-place California State Lifeguard Association with 440.25 points. Led by Anne Skimmons who had four Top 3 finishes, Monmouth County won in tough conditions that were shaped by stiff onshore winds and 4-5 foot waves over a sand bar. “It was an outstanding effort in extremely challenging conditions,” said Monmouth County President Gene Hession. “The swell lasted 3 of the 4 days of the competition. A herculean effort paid off.”

It was a collective team effort of veteran lifeguards and some newcomers to our team,” said Monmouth County coach Mike Barrows. “We have a ton of respect for perennial power LA County so it’s an honor to come back home with the national title.”

The four-day event included individual and team races in the Atlantic Ocean and Daytona Beach sand that tested myriad lifesaving skills including the 2 km Beach Run, Run Relay, Landline Rescue, Run-Swim-Run, Surfski Race and Taplin Relay.

Thomas O’Neill of Riis Park, New York won his second consecutive overall title with 88.375 points. Hayden Hemmens of Newport Beach Ocean Lifeguard Association was second with 85 points.

Jenna Solberg of LA County won her second consecutive overall women’s title with 122.375 points, barely beating her California teammate Kelsey Cummings with 119.375 points.

USLA National Championship Howard Lee Trophy – ‘A’ Team Points Open & Age Group:
1. Monmouth County, 730.500
2. LA County Surf Life Saving Association, 637.500
3. California State Lifeguard Association, 440.250
4. Sussex County, 401.625
5. Hampton Lifeguard Association, 399.000
6. Volusia Surf Lifesaving Association, 385.500
7. Outer Banks, 323.000
8. Miami Beach, 242.000
9. Long Beach New York, 180.750
10. Santa Barbara Lifeguard Association, 113.000

LACOLA Trophy – ‘B’ Overall Points Open & Age Group combined:
1. Riis Park, 348.000
2. Smith Point, 342.750
3. Palm Beach County, 151.750
4. Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue, 147.000
5. Boca Raton, 80.750

Greg Farry Trophy – Overall Points Women & Men Open Only:
1. Monmouth County, 576.500
2. LA County Surf Life Saving Association, 459.000
3. Hampton Lifeguard Association, 358.000
4. Sussex County, 351.625
5. Riis Park, 348.000

Sheridan Byerly Trophy – USLA Region scoring the most Open & Age Group points:
1. Mid Atlantic, 2622.875
2. Southeast, 1501.000
3. Southwest, 1314.750
4. South Atlantic, 602.625

Men’s Overall Points Top Finishers
1. Thomas O’Neill of Riis Park, 88.375
2. Hayden Hemmens of Newport Beach Ocean Lifeguard Association, 85.000
3. Ben Brewer of Santa Barbara Lifeguard Association, 80.000
4. James Bray of California State Lifeguard Association, 77.750
5. Pat Kilgallen of Riis Park, 72.750

Women’s Overall Points Top Finishers
1. Jenna Solberg of LA County Surf Life Saving Association, 122.375
2. Kelsey Cummings of LA County Surf Life Saving Association, 119.375
3. Anne Skimmons of Monmouth County, 81.625
4. Hallie Petersohn of Volusia Surf Lifesaving Association, 77.000
5. April O’Gorman of Volusia Surf Lifesaving Association, 75.000

1.4 km Top Ironmen (swim + board + surfski + beach legs)
1. Brian Murphy of LA County Surf Life Saving Association, California
2. Oliver Puddick of Destin, Florida
3. Cooper Halligan of Destin, Florida

1.4 km Top Ironwomen (swim + board + surfski + beach legs)
1. Kelsey Cummings of LA County Surf Life Saving Association, California
2. Jenna Solberg of LA County Surf Life Saving Association, California
3. Anne Skimmons of Monmouth County, New Jersey

The level of athleticism and competition at Nationals gets better and better each year,” said Ed Zebrowski, Competition Committee Chair.

Lower photo courtesy of Peter Ackerman show Barnegat Light lifeguard Mike Macchia leading Harvey Cedars lifeguard Jeff Shandley in a 1-2 finish in the 1000 Swim in Ship Bottom, New Jersey on August 5th.

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