Paddleboard races challenge lifeguards

Cape May Point’s Jillian Artrip grabs her paddleboard to enter the ocean during Cape May Point Women’s lifeguard Challenge on Monday night.

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.

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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."

Contact Guy Gargan:


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