2013-08-23 / Sports

Riis Lifeguards Place High In All-Women’s Tournament

By Carl Martinez


Riis Park lifeguard teammates (left to right) Nora Neustadt, Jennifer Weisbrich, Rita Brodfuehrer, and Briana Hart. Photo by Brian O’Neill Riis Park lifeguard teammates (left to right) Nora Neustadt, Jennifer Weisbrich, Rita Brodfuehrer, and Briana Hart. Photo by Brian O’Neill A team of seven Riis Park lifeguards recently placed second in Division 1 at the very-well-attended 29th edition of the National Park Service All-Women Lifeguard Tournament.

Teams compete in Division 1 if they have fewer than 10 women on their lifeguard staffs. Teams compete in Division 2 if they have 10 or more women on their lifeguard staffs.

The meet, which took place at Sandy Hook, NJ, on Wednesday, July 31st, drew a total of 244 competitors representing 27 beach patrols from East Coast states as far south as Maryland.

This oldest and largest of women-only lifeguard meets in the United States has 10 events that require speed, strength, and stamina in skills that must be ready for instantaneous use on the job.

These 10 events, alone or in combination, involve running, swimming, paddling an ocean kayak or surf-rescue board, rescuing a “victim,” or rowing a surfboat. None of this is at all easy.


Competitors launch their surf-rescue boards in the runpaddle run event. Photo by Laura Pedrick Competitors launch their surf-rescue boards in the runpaddle run event. Photo by Laura Pedrick To get a sense of the demanding level of physical fitness required, consider the run-swim-run, an event in which Riis Park’s Emily Kelly placed second out of a field of 10.

The run-swim-run involves first running 100 yards before entering sometimes heavy surf, swimming 300 yards often fighting currents, and then running 100 yards to cross the finish line.

That is, the competitor first has to run the equivalent of one football field, swim the equivalent of three football fields, and then run the equivalent of one more football field to the finish line.

And the run-swim-run was just one of the NPS All-Women’s 10 events.


Competitors wait for the tag in the swim-run relay event at the 29th NPS All-Women. Photo by Laura Pedrick Competitors wait for the tag in the swim-run relay event at the 29th NPS All-Women. Photo by Laura Pedrick Still to come were yet more of those football-field equivalents to be traversed faster than your competitor. There were two more hours of physical challenges of the most demanding kind.

Take, for example, the same Emily Kelly: Shortly after her second-place finish in the run-swim-run, she placed second in the ironwoman. Her teammate Devin Nuszer handily placed fifth in this event.

The ironwoman involves first running 100 yards, swimming 250, paddling a surf-rescue board 400, and then running 100 yards to the finish line. Total: Eightand one-half of those football-field equivalents.

After a relatively short rest period, Kelly and Nuszer then teamed up with Rita Brodfuehrer to place second in the swim-run relay.

The swim-run relay involves three legs, with each leg swimming 250 yards and then running 50 yards. Rita Brodfuehrer served as the first leg in this relay, Kelly was the second, Nuszer was the anchor.


A record total of 244 competed at the 29th NPS All- Women Lifeguard Tournament. Photo by Laura Pedrick A record total of 244 competed at the 29th NPS All- Women Lifeguard Tournament. Photo by Laura Pedrick Kelly also ran 100 yards as part of the run relay. Her other Riis Park teammate runners were Briana Hart (first leg), Rita Brodfuehrer (third leg), and Nora Neustadt (anchor). Riis Park took first place.

Thus Kelly finished the day having competed in four of this tournament’s 10 events, and having logged a total of 550 yards running, 800 swimming, and 400 yards paddling—that is, a total of 1,750 yards.

If Kelly were a football player, fans would have considered her performance well beyond the beyond. Yet all she did was show the high level of fitness and skill women bring to surf-lifeguard work daily.

So, too, did all the other 243 competitors at the 29th NPS All-Women, among them her teammates, whose achievements are listed below.

Rita Brodfuehrer and Briana Hart placed fifth and eighth, respectively, in the one-mile distance run.

Hart placed third in beach flags.

Christina Evans placed sixth in the ocean-kayak race.

Nora Neustadt placed ninth in the run-paddle-run.

Neustadt (rescuer) and Brodfuehrer (victim) took fifth in the surf rescue.

The NPS All-Women is a workforcediversity initiative that showcases outstanding role models in action—in the hopes of encouraging yet other women to consider surf-lifeguarding as a line of work.

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