TILLSONBURG - Thirty-three Tillsonburg lifeguards lifted the Ontario Junior Provincial Lifeguard Games Cup.
Not at the same time, of course, but as a team hosting the event for the second consecutive year Tillsonburg Lifesaving Club improved on last year’s second place finish when they were edged by Richmond Hill.
This year it was all Tillsonburg.
An attendance record was set in 2011 for junior lifeguards at a provincial championship, and the 115 lifeguards equaled that number Saturday at the Tillsonburg Community Centre.
“We had about the same size clubs,” said Tillsonburg Lifesaving Club coach Jeff McCurdy, comparing the local team of 7-16 year olds with their closest rival, Richmond Hill. “We might have had one or two more.”
The difference this year more male lifeguards, which allowed Tillsonburg to accumulate more relay points.
Out of four relay teams, male and female in 44-and-under combined age and 45-and-older combined age, in two different relay events – 4x50m obstacle relay and 4x50 lifesaving medley relay – Tillsonburg won gold in every one of them.
“So we received eight relay golds,” said McCurdy.
Other notables Saturday included 16 individuals who place in the Top 5 overall. The team earned a total of 68 event medals – bronze, silver and gold. Awards were presented after the day’s events, and overall winners were presented the medals… and the team championship trophy.
“Essentially you don’t know until the end of the day unless somebody does the math and adds up the points. But it’s a lot of adding to get to 1,800 points. We had a feeling we were doing fairly well, but we didn’t know until the end of the day.
“It’s a provincial championship – these kids work really hard and they have a lot of fun. We felt good about our performances, we felt good and hoped we would get it, and we eventually did.
The 2011-12 season started back in September.
“We worked really hard this year leading up to it with our Sport Fundamentals Program. Some of them have been swimming since September, and we picked up more as we went through our sessions, which run parallel to our lessons. So for the past eight months we’ve focused on working toward this final product.”
The Lifesaving Sport Fundamentals Program, as they operated it this past season, is new in Tillsonburg.
“We were running it two nights a week, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, whereas last year we only ran it for part of the year. So it’s starting to really grow.”
The Tillsonburg team was able to develop a core 22-23 lifeguards, and added more guards from South Western Aquatics swim club (Tillsonburg/Woodstock) and other pools in the area.
The Tillsonburg Lifesaving Club coaching staff consisted of Davey Hildebrand, Colton Hearn, Michelle Bijsterveld, Katie Catry, Hillary Fardella, Mariah Gooding, Taylor Brocanier, Kendra Freund – all members of the senior lifesaving team – and McCurdy.
“We’re just doing a wrap for them this week – a fun play-night to celebrate their win at the provincials. And then we start back up again in September.”
For Tillsonburg Lifeguard Club information, news, results and pictures visit the club website.