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Cape Cod Lifesaving Competition

Founded 45 years ago by a group who witnessed firsthand a dangerous rip current at Nauset Beach in Orleans, the judges for that first year included men from that same group, with Stan Koza as the head judge and Al Lamey as the Head Scoring Judge, all under the supervision of Nauset Beach Manager Paul Fulcher.

For those who do compete, the yearly event provides them with a goal to work toward, something to keep them training and excited about the job even after long, exhausting days in the sun. “You get excited about these competitions. They give you something to shoot for and a reason to train instead of sitting in a chair, staring at the ocean for eight hours,” says Johnson, who explains that lifesaving competitions are popular across the globe. “It helps lifeguards get used to their equipment and learn how to actually rescue someone in a hurry. The Lifesaving Competition is what’s kept me in this job for decades, and I don’t think I would have lasted that long without it.”

Johnson fondly describes the Lifesaving Competition as “a fitness carnival,” a celebration of the athleticism of the dedicated lifeguards that work across the region. “They’re athletes,” says Johnson of the lifeguards. “Many of them even compete in various sports in college.” After all, who better to protect the beaches than those who are passionate about maintaining a peak level of physical fitness, have a strong connection to the ocean, and an intrinsic inclination toward safety? 

With the shark population on the rise around Cape Cod, the Lifesaving Competition has had to combat more issues than ever and ask hard questions about how best to make the event safe and fun for everyone. “I strongly believe in the event,” says Johnson. “I believe in the athleticism and the motivation that it encourages.” And that’s exactly the type of attitude that keeps our beaches safe—a commitment that demonstrates that there are better solutions than being afraid of the water. Participants are people that fully understand and accept the risks of the ocean—sharks, rip tides or anything else—and they choose to protect the environment and the people that want to enjoy it, and face those risks head on as they use their knowledge and expertise to keep Cape Cod’s beaches the shining destination they’ve become known as throughout the world. No matter what Mother Nature has in store, competitions like this one keep lifeguards prepared and ready to do their jobs, because after all, without lifeguards who embrace the responsibilities of the beaches and train in the ocean, who’s left to keep beachgoers safe?



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