The Los Angeles County Surf Life Saving Association (LACoSLSA) team was narrowly defeated in the large team division at the annual US Life Saving Association (USLA) National Championships in Daytona, Florida on August 9 through 12, 2017.
LACoSLSA, a 23-person team comprised of 15 men and 8 women lost to the 58-person team from Monmouth County, New Jersey. Teams are comprised of active and alumni Open Water Lifeguards ranging in age from 18 – 70+ years old from around the Nation. Over one thousand professional lifeguards competed for the National Championship. The competition comprised of individual and team events that challenge the competitors’ lifesaving skills in events that included rescue, swimming, running, paddling, surf skiing and rowing.
“Many of our lifeguards stayed home this year to protect our busy beaches. Every individual raced every event possible. It was physically exhausting battling four days of heat and humidity,” said Section Chief Chris Linkletter. “Our second place finish, with 35 less lifeguards than the Monmouth team, truly shows how versatile our lifeguards are in the many disciplines of surf racing,” Linkletter added.
Ocean Lifeguard Jenna Solberg won the Women’s Open Division followed by Kelsey Cummings (2nd) and Coral Berry (12th) in the top twenty. Ocean Lifeguard David Walters placed 12th overall in the Men’s Open Division. Top Overall Men’s Age Group point scorers were Retired OLS Joel Gitelson (1st) Ocean Lifeguard Ed Heinrich (2nd) and Captain Tom Seth (23rd). Top Women Age Groupers were Section Chief Chris Linkletter (1st), Ocean Lifeguards Deirdre Fisher (9th), and Ann Finley (12th).
LACoSLSA wasn’t the only team representing the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) Lifeguard Division. LA County Junior Lifeguard Division also participated in the event. The Junior Lifeguards held their own at a single day Nationals on Wednesday, August 9. With 14 competitors, nearly all finished top three in at least one event, including the relay teams.
LACoSLSA is a nonprofit organization that represents the LACoFD Lifeguard Division at regional and national lifeguard competitions and also aims to provide water safety education and various opportunities to the general public. The USLA is a nonprofit professional association that comprises of ocean lifeguards and open water rescuers that aims to reduce the risk of death and injury through education and training programs.