Lifeguards show off skills in Rehoboth’s regional competition

Rachel Swick MavityCulture, Headlines


Contestants in the regional lifeguard competition in Rehoboth Beach line up for the 400-meter surf swim. Photo by Rachel Swick Mavity.


University of Delaware student Meredith Lockwood  has lifeguarding in her DNA.

Her father, Don Lockwood, was a Rehoboth Beach Patrol lifeguard from 1985-88 and after being a lifeguard elsewhere last year, Meredith followed him into the patrol this year.

So during Wednesday’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Lifesaving Championships in Rehoboth, Meredith came to win. And have fun, of course.

As she warmed up her legs during the United States Lifesaving Association event, held for the past 27 years in Rehoboth Beach, her dad and supporters watched and encouraged her.

They weren’t disappointed.

In the first women’s 90-meter sprint, Meredith qualified among the top times. In the finals for the sprint, she came in second, earning her big hugs and a smile from dad.

Meredith was among 20 female beach patrol lifeguards and about 50 male guards from the Mid-Atlantic region to compete in a variety of speed and skill races. 

Events include the 90-meter sprint, 2K beach run, 4 x 90 soft-sand beach relay, 400-meter surf swim, swimmer rescue race, landline rescue race, paddleboard rescue race, run-swim-run, surf dash, and beach flags.

Finishing just ahead of Lockwood in the final 90-meter spring was Sophia Gulotti, a four-year Rehoboth Beach Patrol lifeguard.


Meredith Lockwood followed her father, Don into lifeguardings and this year landed at the Rehoboth Beach Patrol, just like him. Photo by Rachel Swick Mavity.

“The level of local and regional talent competing will put on a show not to be missed,” says Gulotti. “We performed well last year, and everyone is excited to see who has what it takes to win a championship and qualify for nationals in Virginia Beach.”

That’s what all the competitors were aiming for – a spot among the top guards from the region. They will travel together as a team to the national competition.

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L.J. Sengphachanh, 19, of Delaware State Beach Patrol says he was excited to compete during his first year on beach patrol. 

“I was a lifeguard at pools before, but beach patrol and this competition are new to me,” Sengphachanh said. “I hope to make it to nationals. The beach patrol is like one big family and I like the relationships I have built here.”

Konnor Knarr — a Cape Henlopen alum like Meredith Lockwood — has been a lifeguard for two years, but this year joined Rehoboth Beach Patrol. His mom came out to support him during the competition.

Knarr is not new to competition. He played boys volleyball for Cap, and was a sprint runner on the track team. Knarr recently finished third in the state at New Balance Nationals.

He led the beach patrol team to success during the 90-meter sprint and was the anchor runner for the patrol in the relay.


Men’s swim top finisher Michael Cullen of Avon by the Sea gets a hug after crossing the finish line. Photo by Rachel Swick Mavity.

In the girls relay, the team to watch was Bethany Beach Patrol, which performed well last year. This year was no different with the four relay runners digging it out in the sand for a top finish. 

Gulotti, Lockwood and the Rehoboth team also excelled in the relay.

During the 400-meter surf swim, the men lined up in two heats and the top 10 then competed in the finals. The females competed in a single heat with the top finishers gaining points.

Lifeguard races

In the first men’s heat, Steve McDonald of the Town of Hempstead, New York,  was first out of the water and through the checkered finish line. In the finals, however, McDonald was bested by several swimmers, landing in fifth place. Top finisher was Mitchell Cullen of Avon by the Sea, New Jersey.

In the women’s 400-meter surf swim, Sea Colony patrol took several top spots. Finishing first was Lexi Santer, followed by teammate Elizabeth Fry in second, and close behind, finishing fourth was teammate Grace Hansen.

The long, hot day of competition was rounded out by several rescue competitions and beach flags, a favorite competition among the guards.

During beach flags, competitors line up in the sand, laying on their stomachs. When the start is signaled, they jump up and sprint to the end of the course in the hopes of being among the first to get there to grab a baton. Like a game of musical chairs, there are fewer batons than participants.

The competition puts the athleticism of ocean lifeguards fully on display. Also on display is the camaraderie they feel.

“We get to know each other over the years,” said veteran guard Kristen Ditommaso of Sea Girt Patrol in New Jersey.

Ditommaso knew her patrol wasn’t bringing many girls over for the competition, so she connected with friends on North Bethany Beach Patrol to round out their relay team.



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