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117 Shack Dominates in Lifeguard Olympics Comeback

 Every summer, lifeguards across the country compete in various lifeguard Olympic events. It’s a tradition Rockaway’s New York City lifeguards haven’t seen since the last official lifeguard Olympics in 2002 and an unofficial attempt in 2006. But some of Rockaway’s longtime lifeguards have taken it upon themselves to bring that tradition back to help inspire the new guards and perhaps show potential future guards why it’s one of the best summer jobs out there. At this comeback Olympics on Tuesday, August 16, 117 Shack showed why they’re the best on the beach.

With the help of 117 lifeguard Brian Gillen, who couldn’t be there on Tuesday, and Justin Hausler of 73 Shack, plus some other senior guards who remember the joy of competing in lifeguard Olympics early in their careers, the NYC Lifeguard Olympics returned on Tuesday. “Lifeguards all over the country compete with each other and we kind of stopped doing it, but this is another way to bring all of the lifeguards together. Morale hasn’t been at a high, but the Olympics has always been one of the greatest things about lifeguarding,” Hausler said. “We come back year after year because we love the ocean and it’s important to keep the competitive spirit alive.”

That competitive spirit was on full display on Tuesday evening on Beach 132nd Street. Lifeguards from shacks across Rockaway’s beaches came out to give it their best shot in various events. With four gold medal wins, 117 Shack proved they’re the best of the best but 73 Shack came in a close second with three gold medal wins. The wins were earned during different team and individual events.

The evening began with team events including the Reel Rescue, in which 73 Shack took first and 117 took second, followed by the 2-Man Rescue, with 117 coming in first, 73 in second and 59 Shack in third. The night ended with a classic tug-of-war, in which 73 Shack took first, 117 took second and 59 took third.

The night also included events for guards to show their individual strengths. In the 500-Meter Swim, Chris Reilly of 73 Shack took first, followed by Pat O’Toole of 59 Shack, Ramseys of 117 in third and Michael Breslin of 117 in fourth. In the Run Swim Run event, Tim McGuinness of 117 took first, Justin Hausler of 73 took second and Robert Butler of 117 took third. In the 500-Meter Paddle, Robert Butler of 117 took the crown while Justin Hausler of 73 took second and Leon Barnes of 73 took third. In the Beach Flags event, Tim McGuinness of 117 came in first, Jack Watt of 73 took second and Leon Barnes of 73 took third (right after an amazing solo rescue at work on 98th St.)

A great time was had by all at the comeback lifeguard Olympics and the guardians of the Atlantic hope to keep this tradition alive. “We had a great turnout tonight and it was fun, though a little less organized than it could’ve been, but as word spreads and people see how much of a good time this is, and how excited people get, and it builds year after year, hopefully it’ll turn into something bigger,” Hausler said.

 By Katie McFadden

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