By Katie McFadden
Some of the best of the best of Riis Park’s federal lifeguards just returned from another successful national championship, earning second overall in the B Team championship and having the top male lifeguard in the country, Thomas O’Neill.
Riis Park sent 13 participants to the 2023 Jersey Mike’s USLA National Championship in Virginia Beach on August 10 and 11. Among them were Thomas O’Neill, Michael Faughnan, Matthew Collins, Michael McAlpine, Brian Baldwin, Kyle Cornish, Danny Collins, Molly Finn, Drew Moldov, Lucas Haddad, Brendan Woods, Aidan Donahue and Sandrine Meyers.
With 351 overall points, Riis Park took second place in the B Team championship this year, behind North Carolina’s Wrightsville Beach team with 369.5 points. Thomas O’Neill once again earned the title of the top individual performer in the Men’s competition, winning the board rescue race and rescue race, finishing second in the surf race, Taplin race and Ironman, and third in run-swim-run. O’Neill also earned this honor in last year’s championship.
The following are results from the USLA’s website. In the Men’s Open Surf Race, a 400m swim race around bouys, Riis took the top spots with Michael Faughnan in first, Thomas O’Neill in second and Drew Modrov in third out of 20 competitors.
Riis did excellent in the Men’s Run-Swim-Run event. Faughnan took first, O’Neill took third, Danny Collins took fifth, Modrov took sixth and Haddad came in 15th out of 18 participants.
In the Open Men’s Rescue Race, a team rescue effort that includes a victim that’s 120m out, a rescue tube swimmer and two rescuers, Riis took first with a team of Brendan Woods, Modrov, Michael McAlpine and O’Neill. Another team of Danny and Matthew Collins, Kyle Cornish and Faughnan took sixth out of 16 teams.
In the Women’s Open Board Race, in which competitors race on a rescue board on the water, Riis Park’s Sandrine Meyers took second place. O’Neill took second place in the Open Men’s Board Rescue Race while Danny Collins took eighth.
In the Women’s Open Board Relay, a mid-Atlantic team of Riis Park’s Molly Finn and Sandrine Meyers, plus Brennyn Veit of Jones Beach took sixth place out of 16 teams.
In the Open Men’s Taplin Relay, a Riis team of Modrov, Cornish and O’Neill, plus a guard from Palm Beach won second.
In the Open Men’s Ironman, a 1,400-meter (approx.) course that includes a swim leg, a board leg, a ski leg and a beach sprint finish, O’Neill won second place while Danny Collins won fourth out of 17 participants.
In the Open Men’s 2k Beach Race, Aidan Donahue came in seventh out of 20 participants.
In the Open Men’s Landline Rescue Race, a new event for 2023, a team of Lucas Haddad, Matthew Collins, Faughnan and O’Neill came in sixth out of 16 teams.
In the Men’s Open Board Relay, a team of Danny Collins and O’Neill, and a guard from Monmouth County came in fifth out of 16 participants.
Congratulation, Riis Park lifeguards, on another successful year at nationals!
For full results and more info on the 2023 Jersey Mike’s USLA National Championship, check out: www.usla.org/
Photos by Gary Quesenberry.