By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MASON - As a child, Flo-Ann Wilson had to be pulled from the water twice by lifeguards. The 44-year-old mother of two didn't learn to swim until her mid-30s.
Then she became a lifeguard.
"My incentive was my kids," Wilson said "I wanted to be sure they were safe in the water."
Though she was competing with 116 lifeguards - most less than half her age - Sunday at the Seventh Annual Cincinnati Area American Red Cross Lifeguard Competition, Wilson and her team were the lifeguards to beat.
The Krueck Community Center Stingrays, Wilson's team, had won the competition - in which teams of four lifeguards perform five rescues - for the past two years.
That provided plenty of motivation for the five teams from Blue Ash Recreation Center.
"We've beat everybody but her," said Jake Monk, 20, a member of Blue Ash's team #2. "We can't seem to beat her."
The Blue Ash teams used Krueck's winning streak as motivation to complete a week of 8 a.m. practices, Monk said.
Blue Ash Team 2 placed first out of the 29 teams competing at Lou Eves Municipal Pool in Mason. Two other Blue Ash teams placed fourth and fifth. The Krueck Stingrays came in seventh.
The top seven teams move on to the state competition Aug. 3.
The Blue Ash teams painted BARC across their bodies in blue and black "war" paint. Some streaked their hair blue and tied white cloth strips around their biceps.
Though the competitive aspect of the event motivates the lifeguards, the competition is designed to get lifeguards to improve their skills.
"It's a good way for them to perfect their skills," said Cindy Tiemann, aquatic coordinator for the Red Cross's Cincinnati Area Chapter. It also shows that lifeguarding is not just "sitting in a chair all summer; there is more beyond that," she added.
The lifeguards competed in five events, including rescuing a victim who is splashing around in the water, a victim who is floating in the water, a victim who is underwater, and a victim with a spinal injury. The guards also had to demonstrate how to stop severe bleeding.
They were awarded points based on skill, time and accuracy.
Cincinnati Area American Red Cross Lifeguard Competition results:
First place team: Blue Ash Recreation Center Team 2 (Jake Monk, 20, of Liberty Township; Amy Stenger, 17, of Reading; Matt Jones, 21, of Indian Hill; Dan Guthrie, 23, of Hartwell)
Other teams moving on to state competition:
Miami Hills Swim Club; Oakley (Orange Team) Cincinnati Recreation Commission; Blue Ash Recreation Center #1; Blue Ash Recreation Center #3; Madisonville Cincinnati Recreation Commission; Krueck (Stingrays) Cincinnati Recreation Commission.
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