Above, Gurnee competitors in the annual Illinois Park and Recreation Assocation Lifeguard Games – Gurnee Park District photos
After competing in the recent “Lifeguard Games,” an annual Illinois Park and Recreation Association competition which provides lifeguards the opportunity to showcase their rescue skills, the Gurnee Park District came out on top again.
This is the 8th consecutive win for the Gurnee teams which took part in the event July 15 at Meadowhill Aquatic Center in Northbrook.
“This event is great practice for our guards. It allows them to test their lifeguard skills under stressful conditions they might experience in a real aquatic emergency,” said Kara Moss, aquatic manager of the Gurnee Park District.
This year’s competition included 35 lifeguard and junior lifeguard teams. Gurnee Park District brought two lifeguard teams and one junior lifeguard team to compete in the event.
Each team competed in seven events to determine a champion. Both the District lifeguards and junior lifeguards were defending champions for their respective divisions for the past seven years before the event. Both Gurnee Park District lifeguards and junior lifeguards took first place again — eight years running state champs.
This event is great practice for our guards. It allows them to test their lifeguard skills under stressful conditions they might experience in a real aquatic emergency.” – Kara Moss, aquatic manager of the Gurnee Park District.
“We are all very proud of all of our teams and lifeguards who most importantly help keep our pool and our customers safe at Hunt Club Park Aquatic Center and FitNation. Our teams represented us well as they finished in first and sixth place out of 35 lifeguard teams. These guards give 110% at our aquatic facilities as well as for Guard Games. They practice late at night because they truly care about setting a positive example and upholding Gurnee Park District standards all while having fun,” said Moss. “We are proud to set the bar high for the Illinois Park and Recreation Association Lifeguard Games. These teams truly demonstrated that you can perfect your lifeguard skills, keep people safe and in a quick fashion to eliminate any major emergencies,” she added.
Lifeguard Teams (designates Guest in Distress)
1st Place Team: Justin Elkinton, Sophie Pietranek, Maddie Pietranek, Jonathan Sweet (Allison Salisbury)
6th Place Team: Max Bongratz, Jack Bongratz, Samantha Kroc, Natalie Schuler (DJ Bearnod)
Junior Lifeguard Team
1st Place Team: Lexi Dorner, Jordan Elkinton, Jack Foster, Ethan Harrigan, Natan Weiner
In order to raise funds to attend the event, coaches Danielle Friedl and Braykur Robinson organized two car washes at Hunt Club Park Aquatic Center. “The community was welcome to attend the fundraiser and get their car washed to help cover the cost of registration, transportation and team apparel. The guards, under the guidance of Danielle and Braykur, were able to raise over $500,” Moss said.
Friedl and Robinson have coached and organized the teams and practices for the past four years. All preparation, practice and day of event time is volunteer – for both lifeguards and coaches.
“Thank you to our Danielle and Braykur for their tremendous role in motivating our staff and junior lifeguards towards another successful year at this event,” said Moss.
Gurnee Park District employs approximately 60 lifeguards and about 70 other aquatic staff to supervise, instruct and otherwise deliver great services to activities held at Hunt Club Park Aquatic Center, FitNation and Warren High School Pool.
“I am so proud of my staff for performing well each year in this event. However, I am more impressed with their preparation, the connection the community has with them and the general level of respect they show to each other, the host facility and the other competitors each year.” She also emphasized, “Gurnee should be proud to know that these are great, young adults with high moral standards. Our guards represent the community well every year, not just on the scoreboard.”