Since 2010, Evanston lifeguards have competed against lifeguards from other North shore towns as part of the United States Lifesaving Association’s (USLA) Chicago Northshore Games. This year’s event took place on July 23-24 at Gillson Park Beach in Wilmette, and approximately 20 Evanston lifeguards competed against lifeguards from Glencoe and Wilmette.
The USLA has hosted regional games in other areas for several years, says Adam Abajian, Evanston’s recreation program coordinator. Based on this, Mr. Abajian and other lakefront managers from Wilmette, Winnetka and Glencoe, created the Northshore chapter in 2010 and the event has been held annually every summer since then.
“I think [the games are] a great opportunity to share skills, encourage improvement in abilities and promote interagency cooperation,” Mr. Abajian said. The host beach is in charge of organizing the event each year, he said, and the only requirement to participate is that individuals must be active lifeguards at one of the participating beaches.
This year’s games included volleyball, a paddle board race, swim relay, rescue relay, beach flags, kayak race, run swim run and tug of war. Evanston guards came in first in all events except for volleyball, where they placed second. Typically, the games feature separate male and female events, but Glencoe did not have enough participants this year, so all events became co-ed.
“I think the guards did a wonderful job, and showed good sportsmanship,” said Ashton Schardt, Assistant Lakefront Coordinator, who has participated in the games for several years. When asked what keeps him coming back every year, he said, “The camaraderie, sportsmanship, us wanting to win the cup every year [alluding to the trophy that is rewarded to the winning team] and just the overall good fun with other guards and you can see how everyone does on the North shore.”
Evanston lifeguard supervisor Graham Becker Chiu added, “I think we played very good. We definitely like to represent Evanston. We have a lot of good athletes so we definitely bring our talent.” He continued, “I like the events that we do. Some of them are more for fun. The beach flags is a lot of fun but some of them are more toward [teaching] lifeguard skills.”
Participants for Evanston included Jake Cvetas, Nuala Brennan, Luke Stover, Troyer Wallace-Evans, Kiersa Berg, Caroline Galliani, Aidan Dillon, Connor Ward, Annie Lee, Cam Colby, Kayne Kulman, Santiago Ramos-Torrescano, Grace King, Cassie Tingley, Mariola Gorlicki, Neha Singh, Natalie Struve, Ellie Walsh, Andrew Torma, and Luke Stamos.