By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — It was a battle of the lifeguards last week as the town hosted its first ever competition between the staff at Hood Park against those who protect the swimmers at Gallien’s Town Beach.
Lifeguards from both sides gathered at Gallien’s for the early morning event, pitting the guards against each other in tests of lifesaving skills, water safety, trivia and emergency training.
Parks and Recreation staffer Nicole Ferrante said this was the first year the competition has been held combining fun with serious lifesaving skills.
“It kind of tests them a little bit,” Ferrante said.
The town has 10 guards at Gallien’s Beach and another six keep watch at Hood Pond.
Jackie Anzivino watched as her son, Tony, 17, gave his all to support his Gallien’s guard team.
She was once a lifeguard. This is Tony’s first year as a lifeguard.
“It’s been a wonderful summer for him,” Anzivino said. “I couldn’t begin to teach him this stuff at home. This fits his personality.”
Alex Preece spent three years as a town lifeguard and now is an assistant supervisor at Don Ball Park.
He said being a lifeguard offered him not only a chance to enjoy the sun and stay in shape, but taught him good skills to take through life.
“The longer you work here, the more people recognize you,” he said. “It was a good experience working with the public.”
In the end, the Hood guards prevailed.
Derry Parks and Recreation offers a Guard Start program for students hoping to become lifeguards. The American Red Cross program offers areas of training including fitness, prevention, leadership, response and professionalism. The sessions are held every summer.
To learn more about becoming a lifeguard, call 432-6136.