Pompano Jr. lifeguard program ends for summer

Posted on 17 August 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

With the start of school this week in Broward County, that generally signals the end of the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguard program for the summer.

The Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguards recently closed out the year by competing in the regional competition in Delray Beach; state competition in Ft. Lauderdale and about 35 competitors and coaches that went to the 2017 USLA Nationals Championship in Daytona Beach.

This year, we had a very strong group of competitors representing Team Pompano not only in depth, but also in attitude,” said Nemia Schulte, president of the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguard Association. “We also have quite a few of our competitors in the U-19 Division vying for a spot on the Youth Team USA to represent the United States at the 2017 Worlds Competition in New Zealand in a couple of months.”

Team Pompano also held its end-of-year team banquet on Aug. 4 at the Skolnick Center.

Pompano Beach’s Christian Quinones was one of the program’s standout competitors this summer as he won the Boys Rescue Board Race and the Beach Flags competition in the Boys B Division at the James P. “Mac” McCarthy Memorial Regional Lifesaving Championships in Delray Beach. More than 200 competitors from around the state turned out for the competition in Delray.

I like the program because it is fun,” said Quinones, 13, of Pompano Beach, who is an 8th grader at Pompano Beach Middle. “It gets your adrenaline going. It is fun competing against your friends and at other beaches.”

I have made a lot of friends over the years,” he added. “It is really hard to compete against them every year. As you get older, the competition gets tougher.”

Jo Wagenhals, an Ocean Rescue Captain/EMT for Pompano Beach Fire Rescue, served as master of ceremonies for the regionals. She is also the treasurer for the United States Lifesaving Association’s Southeast Region.

This program teaches team building, obviously athleticism, about the environment, safety,” Wagenhals said. “Flagler County is one county that brings in non-swimmers, kids who have never swam before, so they just get kids comfortable in the water, which is a huge step.”

Pompano Beach’s Gwen Bencie, 16, of the Ft. Lauderdale Ocean Rescue Junior Lifeguards program, won three individual events in the Girls 19-Under Division – Distance Swim, Rescue Board Race and the Surfski.

Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguard Mattheus Santos, 16, of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, took first place in the Distance Swim; Run Swim Run, and was also a member of the winning Surf Rescue Relay.

Other local female winners at regionals included: Junior Ironguard: Girls A: Isabella Taylor, Pompano. Girls C: Reese Andres, Pompano. Distance Swim: Girls A: Isabella Taylor. Girls C: Reese Andres, Pompano. Rescue Board Race: Girls A: Summer Schulte, Pompano. Girls C: Reese Andres. Beach Flags: Girls A: Victoria Scarpinito, Pompano. Girls B: 2. Jennifer Johnson, Deerfield Beach. Run Swim Run: Girls 19-Under: Summer Schulte. Girls C: Reese Andres.

Other local male winners at regionals included: Junior Ironguard: Boys Under-19: Alejandro Quiones, Pompano. Boys A: Rafael Santos, Pompano. Distance Swim: Boys A: Rafael Santos. Rescue Board Race: Boys B: Christian Quinones, Pompano. Boys C: 2. Peter Roca, Hollywood. Beach Flags: Boys B: Christian Quinones. Boys C: 2. Yuri DeFranco, Deerfield Beach. Surf Rescue Relay Race: Boys 19-Under: Ronald Haehe, Mattheus Santos, Pompano; Boys A: Alex Marquez, Rafael Santos, Pompano. Run Swim Run: Boys 19-Under: Mattheus Santos. Boys A: Rafael Santos.

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