More than 400 junior lifeguards competed in the 5th annual Junior Lifeguard State Championships recently on Ft. Lauderdale Beach.
Pompano Beach led the way with 60 competitors, while Deerfield Beach brought 27 junior lifeguards.
There were three primary age divisions in the state event including A Division (ages-14-17); B Division (ages 12-13); and C Division (ages 9-11) and an introductory Grommets Program (for 7-8 year-olds who are not yet qualified to join the Junior Lifeguard Team).
Pompano Beach’ Shannon Snell, 17, a senior at Cardinal Gibbons High School, is no stranger to the competition and turned in a stellar performance winning the Girls A Division of the beach flags event in addition to the surf swim and the run-swim-run.
Snell, who has been a junior lifeguard for nearly eight years, competed in last year’s World Championships in France last year where she placed 10th in beach flags; 6th in the 100-meter dash and 10th in the paddle.
“It was really epic to represent our country,” said Snell, who competed for the Pompano Beach junior lifeguard competition. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Admittedly, there is a lot of pressure being at a world level and in a high performance competition she said, “you need to know what you are doing.”
“I am going to remember everyone I competed with and the teamwork,” she added. “Just the part of racing with each other and working together… and making friends for life … We know each other and learn new tricks every year from each other.”
Deerfield Beach’s junior lifeguards was led by Daniel Padron, who won the B Division of the beach flags event, while Pompano Beach also got a strong performance from Summer Schulte, who won the B Division in the paddle, run-swim-run and surf swim. There were seven events – beach flags, paddle, run relay, run-swim-run, paddle relay, surf swim, and the ironguard.
Local winners in the beach flags were Shannon Snell (Pompano Beach, Girls A Division); Daniel Padron (Deerfield Beach, Boys B Division); Christian Quinones (Pompano Beach, Boys C Division).
Winners in the paddle were Andre Bacic (Deerfield Beach, Boys A Division); Nicholas Calice (Pompano Beach, Boys B Division); Summer Schulte (Pompano Beach, B Girls Division); Jake Schulte (Pompano Beach, Boys C Division); Tamara Backers (Deerfield Beach, Girls C Division); Reef Coote (Pompano Beach, Boys D Division) and Victoria Vanacore (Pompano Beach, Girls D Division).
Winners in the Run-Swim- Run competition were Race Wilhoit (Pompano Beach, Boys A Division); Shannon Snell (Pompano Beach, Girls A Division); Christian Henderson (Pompano Beach, Boys B Division); Summer Schulte (Pompano Beach, Girls B Division); Jake Schulte (Pompano Beach, Boys C Division).
Winners in the Surf Swim competition included Shannon Snell (Pompano Beach, Girls A Division); Christian Henderson (Pompano Beach, Boys B Division); Summer Schulte (Pompano Beach, Girls B Division) and Samantha Escobar (Pompano Beach, Girls D Division).
The state championships were a precursor to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) regional competition recently in Daytona Beach. The national USLA competition will also be held in Daytona Beach on August 5.