OCEAN CITY — Three members of Ocean City Beach Patrol’s team and one member of Sea Colony Beach Patrol won the sprint-relay national championship at the recent United States Lifesaving Association’s Nautica National Lifeguard Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida.
It is the first time an Ocean City lifeguard has won this highly competitive event since 1993. The members of the sprint team were Ocean City lifeguards Youcef Belrachid, Scott McGiffin and Adam Bielawski with Sea Colony’s Dustin Venables. It is routine for Ocean City and Sea Colony’s beach patrols to compete together since Sea Colony’s Captain Dave Griffiths is a former sergeant of nearly 30 years with the Ocean City Beach Patrol.
The three Ocean City champions are all second-year employees with the Town of Ocean City.
“We just feel honored to be able to represent Ocean City, Md. in such a way. This puts us on the map now and we could not ask anything better,” Belrachid said.
“I feel honored to have had the opportunity to compete against great athletes and for our team to come out on top,” said McGiffin.
Bielawski added, “I feel blessed to be able to run in such an amazing team. All the guys had a great mindset. I’m also thankful that Dustin was able to help us in getting that title.”
Other members of the team representing the town were Rahym Belrachid, who made it to finals in both the run-swim-run and the highly competitive 400-meter surf swim; Josh Remaniak, a first year lifeguard who narrowly missed finals in the surf swim; Crew Chief Kelly McGrath, who placed eighth in the country in the women’s open in the beach flags event; and Joe Keefe.
The competition team was led by president of the Ocean City Beach Patrol Chapter of the United States Lifesaving Association and Beach Patrol Sergeant Rick Cawthern who placed highly in four age-group events.
“All of us train hard for these competitions or whatever Mother Nature throws at us during our working hours. Being here you see the top athletes in the nation competing against each other. It’s a great event to be a part of,” said Cawthern.
Also representing the town was Sergeant Jamie Falcon, a fifth year official for the United States Lifesaving Association, and his wife, Lara Falcon.
Next year, the national competition is slated to take place in California. Ocean City’s competitors volunteer their time and pay for their own transportation to the events. Their lodging was generally supported by the generosity of Ocean City’s businesses such as the Ocean Pines Beach Club, Anthony’s Liquors, Kirby’s Pub, OC Wasabi and the Fractured Prune on 128th Street.