Tag Archives: Heidi List Murphy

Compo Lifeguards Add Competition To Training

For several reasons — college graduation, other job opportunities, etc. — this year’s Compo Beach lifeguard crew is younger than usual. Of the 3 dozen guards (about 60% from Westport), almost all are between 16 and 21 years old.

But it’s a hugely important job. Lives are at risk. Standards can’t be lowered.

Compo lifeguards do rescue training throughout the summer. Being young and outside, they like to keep fit.

This year, those 2 elements are one. Waterfront co-directors Heidi List Murphy and Danilo Sierra have designed a series of “rescue workouts.”

Heidi List Murphy and Danilo Sierra, in the guard shack.

And they’ve added the element of competition.

Every day at high tide — except, of course, when the beach is closed due to a sewage leak 🙁 — the guards form teams. They sprint along the sand, swim, and head out on boards to the buoys and back.

Every guard is timed. They’re allowed to choose their teams, so there’s pressure to have good scores.

At the end of every day, there’s a debriefing meeting. The rescue workout is always part of the discussion.

The workouts increase confidence and raise morale, Sierra says.

“This is a teaching beach,” Murphy notes. “Guards are constantly learning. They like the hands-on part of this, and the competition.”

JC Montoni, in the midst of a rescue workout.

Fortunately, the Compo guards have not had to rescue anyone — for real — this year.

Last year, there was one rescue. It came in the final 4 hours of the last day guards were on duty for the summer.

“It can happen any time,” Murphy notes. “We have to be ready.”

Thanks in part to the rescue workouts — and constant supervision and education — they will be.


Unsung Heroes #61

I’m not sure why summer lasts only 3 days, while winter drags on for 27 months, but once again one of our favorite seasons races to a close.

And once again we’ve been served wonderfully well by our Compo Beach, Longshore and Burying Hill lifeguards.

Despite their red outfits, high perches and occasional whistles, they tend to blend in with the sand and sea scenery.

Yet without them, we would not have the wonderful summer(s) we do.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

Thankfully, their real emergencies are very few. But — in addition to training incessantly for them — our lifeguards also

  • Keep overzealous swimmers from straying into danger, and over-aggressive boats at bay
  • Handle routine scrapes, bruises and stings with care and kindness
  • Quickly summon the pros for more dangerous medical issues
  • Reunite lost kids with parents (and, during the fireworks, lost spouses with each other)
  • Answer tons of questions, from difficult to ridiculous (“yes, Joey’s is open now”)
  • Educate beach-goers about jellyfish and horseshoe crabs
  • Post thought-provoking Quotes of the Day
  • Pick up more garbage than you realize.

I’m sure I’ve missed many of other things our lifeguards do. Because — like the list above — they do them quietly, efficiently and (way too often) thanklessly.

Plus they’re out there, rain or shine.

So, to head guard Heidi List Murphy and her fantastic Parks & Recreation crew: thank you! You are always — but especially this week — our Unsung Heroes.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)