CAPE MAY POINT - Eight of the 19 competitors in the Cape May Point Women's Lifeguard Challenge showed up with paddleboards larger than the race's standard 10-foot, 6-inch size Monday.
Race director Kristen Moorby had a meeting with the various lifeguard chiefs and coaches, and they decided to have two divisions in the event for the first time. They decided not to have a team championship, since that would create more confusion.
Anne Skimmons of Sea Girt Beach Patrol was the overall and the shortboard division winner in her first attempt at the race.
Stone Harbor rookie lifeguard Hayley Edwards won the longboard division.
Skimmons, a 17-year-old rising senior at Point Pleasant Borough High School, finished the sixth annual run-paddleboard-swim sprint triathlon in 25 minutes, 6 seconds. She runs cross country and track, and swims in high school.
Lexi Santer, an Ocean City rookie, was second overall and in the division in 26:04. Meghan O'Leary of Cape May was third in the division in 26:44. O'Leary was fourth overall because Edwards won the longboard division in 26:25.
Also in shortboard, Cape May's Kerry Choplin was fourth in 28:25 and Katie Collins of Wildwood fifth in 29:24.
"I was hard to run on the soft sand (rather than run further to get to hard sand) because that was the regular course and I didn't want to confuse myself," said Skimmons. "The run was my best leg, but the paddleboard was my favorite because I got into a rhythm. The swim went pretty well. I was worried that I might lose my (lead) but I continued to stay ahead."
Edwards won the longboard division by 41 seconds over Wildwood Crest's Mary Anne Lerro (27:06). North Wildwood's Jordan Lyons was third in longboard in 28:50. It was also Edwards' first attempt at the race. She's a former Villanova University swimmer.
"I wasn't really prepared for the soft sand, but once I got to the paddleboard and the swim I felt pretty good with those," Edwards, 22, said. "The water is more my element. I got some helpful advice from (Stone Harbor lifeguards) Zac Campbell, Steve New and Dennis Bakey. It was exciting. I'm happy I did it."
Moorby said that the beach patrols were emailed to bring the standard United States Lifeguard Association 10-6 board.
"Not everybody (in the South Jersey Lifeguard Chiefs Association) follows the USLA, and a lot of the girls really trained hard for the race," Moorby said. "Having two divisions was the best thing."
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