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Riis Park’s Tom O’Neill Dominates in Lifeguard Champs

By Katie McFadden

Before Rockaway’s City lifeguards held their unofficial lifeguard Olympics last week, Riis Park’s Federal Lifeguards were once again dominating in the National Lifeguard Championship, and Riis’ Tom O’Neill was declared the National Men’s Overall Winner, making him one of the top lifeguards in the country.

From August 10 through 13, lifeguards from across the U.S. went to Hermosa, California to compete in the 2022 Jersey Mike’s USLA National Championship. LA County Surf Life Saving Association took home the whole championship in the A Division, but Riis Park had a strong showing, earning second place in the B Division championship, behind Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue.

However, Thomas O’Neill was the Men’s Overall Points Top Finisher, with 87.75 points, putting him first above two LA County lifeguards and making him the top lifeguard in the country. The title came, miraculously after O’Neill suffered a back injury earlier this year, which he recovered from through rehabilitation.

Throughout the weekend, O’Neill had some big wins, coming in first in the Rescue Race and in the Surf Race, a swim around a 400-meter course. Riis Park’s Drew Modrov came in third in this event, and Riis’ Daniel Collins came in sixth out of 20 contestants. O’Neill also came in second place in the Ironman event, a 1,400-meter course that includes a swim leg, a board leg, a ski leg and a beach sprint finish. Peter Ebert came in ninth and Daniel Collins came in eleventh in the Ironman.

O’Neill also came in second place in the Run-Swim-Run event, an event in which Modrov placed fifth and Collins placed seventh. Peter Ebert came in fifth in the Open Mens Board Race and fourth in the Open Mens Surf Ski race.

Riis Park also came in second place in the Taplin Relay, involving one swimmer, one board paddler, one surfskier and one runner. That Riis team consisted of Drew Modrov, Kyle Cornish, Peter Ebert and Thomas O’Neill. A team of Ebert and O’Neill came in fourth in the Open Mens Board Rescue Race, an event which left O’Neill bloody by the end.  A team of Collins, Ebert and O’Neill also came in fourth in the Mens Open Board Relay.

In the women’s events, Riis Park’s Molly Finn’s team of other Mid Atlantic lifeguards came in twelfth out of 19 teams in the Open Women’s Taplin Relay. Finn also came in eighth place out of 12 teams in the Open Womens Board Rescue Race.

When patrons visit Riis Park’s beach, they can know they’re under the watch of some of the best lifeguards in the country.

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