Pompano Junior Lifeguards fare well at regional event

Posted on 18 July 2019 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguard Grace Parnas wins the beach flags event as she tops Lake Worth’s Kiki Padron at the United States Lifeguard Association Southern Regional event at Lake Worth. Photo by Gary Curreri

Grace Parnas had a stellar effort at the recent United States Lifeguard Association Southern Regional event at Lake Worth.

The 14-year-old Pompano Beach resident won six of the nine events she was in and placed second in another for the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguards in the Girls A Division. Parnas, who will be a sophomore at Calvary Christian Academy in the fall, took first in the run-swim-run, paddleboard race, beach flags, rescue race, iron guard and the swim relay. She got silver in the run relay.

“I’ve been competing for four years and been doing the camp for six years,” Parnas said. “It’s so fun. Most of the people say it is so hard, but I get to see my friends and then compete with them.”

She gets lost in the adrenaline rush. 

“You honestly don’t remember a lot of the race,” Parnas said. “You have the adrenaline rush and you are going as fast as you can because you just want to win.”

“I never expected to be at nationals or regionals,” said Parnas, who has also fared well at the national event.

She won beach flags two years ago and placed third last year in the event and is the two-time defending paddleboard national champion. 

“It is incredible,” she continued. “I never thought I would win nationals. I don’t feel any (outside) pressure. It is more self-put pressure because I want to win a national championship again.”

Teammate Julia Freshour, 13, also of Pompano, turned in a solid performance as well. She won the Girls B Division surf rescue, paddleboard, run-swim-run, rescue relay, and moved up in both the Girls A swim relay and the U19 swim relay. She was second in the iron guard.

“I really love ocean swimming so it is probably that,” said Freshour, who is a Pompano Middle School eighth-grader and has competed since she was 7. “I like to race. The competitions are really important. I would skip anything that day to come to this.”

She also loves the adrenaline rush when she competes.

“I kind of tune everything out, and I get into this zone where I kind of go into autopilot and just go,” she said. “I don’t think about anything. I don’t feel anything. I can just go all out.

It is very important to win.”

Pompano Beach’s Victoria Scarpinito took second in the U19 Girls beach flags event. She’s competed for the past five years.

“I love the team spirit and team enthusiasm. I like the challenge and how you can push yourself,” said Scarpinito, 17, who will be a senior at Cardinal Gibbons in the fall. She is also a member of the school’s dance team and on the Pro-Am competition dance team.

“It is an amazing feeling once you are out there,” she said. “It is not the most important thing to win, but it is a good feeling when you do.”

Summer Schulte took first in the U19 girls Surf race (distance swim), paddleboard and iron guard, while Oliver Nagy was the top boys finisher for the Pompano program as he won three events in the Boys A Division. He won the surf swim, paddleboard and iron guard.

Rich Tammany, who heads up the host Lake Worth Junior Lifeguard program, said the event attracted about 200 junior lifeguards from as far south as Hollywood all the way north to Flagler Beach.

Among the other cities represented were Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach and host Lake Worth.

“We were very excited,” Tammany said. “I have been doing Junior Lifeguards for 23 years and this is only the second time we have had it here. The other time we had it here was 2006. The kids are excited. The weather was good…water was good. It was a great day.”

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