On Monday, August 8, over 20 lifeguards from the Lake Mohawk Country Club and Culver Lake challenged each other in five life-saving events during the 2022 Sussex County Lifeguard Competition at Lake Mohawk.
Two other teams scheduled to compete had to cancel their appearance due to last minute staffing issues. So in order to have at least three teams compete, LMCC split their guards up into an A and B teams.
Although the weather was great, the water conditions were unusually rough with high chops and wind. “Looks like the ocean!” one lifeguard commented.
Despite the conditions, the first event was the 500-yard open water swim. LMCC’s Molly Engleherdt, on Team A, came in first in the female division, while her brother, Will, also on Team A, came in first for the males. Catherine Gaines, of Team A, and Miranda Doller, of Team B, came in second and third for the females.
Alex Flanagan and Hudson Owens took second and third, respectively, for Culver Lake. Olivia Flanz, of Team B, came in fourth, with Heidi Van den Heuvel, of Culver Lake, taking fifth place. Michael Gaines, of Team A, finished 4th in the male division.
The next event was the run/swim/paddle/kayak relay. Catherine Gaines led off for Team A, with Robby Cerra for Team B and Elizabeth Hirsch for Culver Lake. They all sprinted down the boardwalk to the spillway bridge and back to tag their teammate for the swim leg. Alex Flanagan, of Culver Lake, took off on the swim, with Doller right behind him, while Will Engleheardt, came right after her. Will caught up to Flanagan at the turn around the ski ramp, and both were neck and neck until Will inched in to tag Michael Gaines, hitting the water with the paddleboard. Owens had a great start on the paddleboard and was on Michael’s tail. Flanz followed close behind after Doller tagged her.
Michael was able to keep the lead and passed it off to Sam Holovacs on the kayak. The team launched Holovacs out from the shoreline into the rough water. Ryan Van Ostenbridge, of Culver Lake, was literally launched out into the water on the kayak by his team. Alicia Gaines followed up for Team B.
LMCC’s Team A and Culver Lake were close to neck and neck to the very end, with Holovacs holding a slight lead in the kayak near the finish. Van Ostenbridge was within inches of catching Holovacs.
The rescue tube relay tested the guards’ speed and stamina in the rough water. Lifeguards had to run and then swim out 50 yards to grab a “victim” and then tow them back to shore. LMCC’s Team A came in first, but again with Culver Lake right on their heels. Team B was close behind Culver.
Culver Lake won the ring buoy relay, with Teams B and A almost in a tie for second.
The final challenge of the evening was the Team Scenario event. At this point, the wind and chop on the water seemed to pick up. Manikins were dropped in the deep water and one lifeguard from each team had to run, swim, surface dive and recover the manikin and then tow it to shore where their team was waiting with a backboard, bag valve mask and an AED trainer. Each team then had to do four minutes of high-performance team CPR.
At one point, the guards had a little difficulty in locating the manikins due to the water conditions. One of the manikins had disappeared from the original location.
When the other teams of lifeguards saw that two guards were having a problem locating the submerged manikin, they immediately stopped what they were doing in the event and all of the guards, LMCC and Culver Lake, quickly formed a deep-water line and search and located the manikin in about a minute. The crowd on the beach cheered.
Once the manikins were all on the beach, the competition resumed. LMCC’s Team A just edged out Culver Lake on this event.
The evening ended with the guards, family, and friends who came to cheer everyone on celebrating with some pizza and cake. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded and the travelling competition trophy remains at LMCC. The guards enjoyed some great camaraderie and fun.
The motto of LMCC Marine Safety Services is “we train to save lives, not to compete.”
Sponsors for this competition included: the N.J. Aquatic Safety Coalition, the NJ Coalition of Lake Associations, Lake Mohawk Country Club, Lake Mohawk Marina, AquaMentor, Tulpehocken Water, the American Red Cross, and R.D. Carlson & Associates.