Topping last year’s award-winning performance at the United States Lifeguarding Association’s Nationals competition in Manhattan Beach, Calif., is a challenge for the Fenwick Island squad, headed by 20-year captain Tim Ferry, but that’s not stopping them from trying. As the lifeguards of the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol (FIBP) get into the summer season, they’re taking their Friday-morning training from the beach to strengthen themselves at World Gym in Ocean View.
“It’s a way to throw in a little change of pace for our guards with the upcoming season,” said Ferry. “We want to keep that edge and give our guards something a little different.”
The lifeguards of the FIBP ranked third in the country overall last August, capturing two titles in the national competition. They found themselves in the big event after snagging five of six top finishes in regional competition and second in another, which pitted them against guards from Ocean City, Md., to Rehoboth Beach.
“It will be difficult to match what we did last year,” Ferry added, “but that’s the challenge. Our accomplishments last year were phenomenal. We really raised the bar with the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol.”
Of the 30 guards in Fenwick Island, well over half have committed to the Friday-morning workouts, participating in a boot camp-like program called “Cross-Fit,” pushing every muscle group to its limits. John Subity, a personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist at World Gym, assembled the class and its routines.
“The course is designed to supplement the training they already do,” said Subity. “It involves compound, functional movements and encourages the guards to work on elevator heart rates while developing strength. It’s a great way for them to improve their balance and focus on task at hand, too.” Subity’s expertise is designed to help individuals who already have a strong athletic ability but who are looking to take their performance to the next level.
The guards began their once-a-week workout at World Gym last Friday, June 19, which gives them a full regimen of core and aerobic exercise.
“Every beach patrol has their standard workout on the beach,” said Ferry. “They all have the typical sand and water exercises. This course gives our guys and girls that edge. John has really put together a high-intensity program. He knows the type of things we do out on the beach, and he incorporates them into the program.”
Second-year FIBP 1st Lt. Justin Null is ambitious in the preparation that the workouts will provide.
“It’s a really nice change-up from our beach routines,” he said. “They’re really intense and involve a lot of cardio, but the workouts at World Gym mix in weight and core training, which are important for high-performance athletes and people like lifeguards, who need to constantly be in shape. It’s really intense, but a great asset.”
The Fenwick guards still have their morning preparations on the beaches from 8:30 a.m. through 9:30 a.m. the rest of the week, prior to their 10 a.m. shift.
“This says a lot about our guards,” Ferry mentioned. “We had good attendance for our trial class, and most guards seemed to like it. It’s great to see that they’re willing to get out here at 7 in the morning, when their workday doesn’t start until 8. It doesn’t take away from anything we do on the beach. If anything, it’s only going to make us better.”
Ferry has many of his veteran guards returning this year but plenty of new faces in the mix, too, which he is hoping will bring added skill and concentration to the patrol.
“This year,” Ferry said, “we have more rookies than we’ve ever had in the past. Out of the eight rookies, four or five of them came here based on our reputation alone. This year, it’s really up to our veteran guards to set that example and standard for the new guys.”
Being top dog in the region is definitely a perk, but that requires a level mind and devoted persistence in seasons to come.
“We had a great summer last year,” Ferry said, “in terms of the lifeguard aspect, and in the competitions. We’re just trying to up the ante. These guys are working together and our guards are really having a good time. It’s just another thing we’re looking to stay on top. The squad’s really bought into it. They’re working hard.”
The reputation of the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol can be traced back to its training and preparation programs. This week marked the start of the 2009 Junior and Advanced Lifeguard Programs, which aim at getting the next generation of lifeguards ready for the beaches.
The town’s annual bonfire will also take place next week, with proceeds going toward the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol’s competition expenses. The bonfire is set for Sunday evening, July 5, on the beach at Dagsboro Street, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Additional information on the event is available at the town’s Web site, at www.fenwickisland.org.