Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation's aquatics staff won first place in the annual statewide lifeguard competition. From left to right are Arthur Bedard, Jacob Finco, Aiden Hall, Aliyah Berry, Joel Nickerson, Holly Smith, Aaron Murdock, Cole Hembree, and Christen Hardy.

Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation lifeguards won first place at the annual Georgia Recreation and Park Association State Lifeguarding Competition, held at Lake Oconee in Greene County on July 16. Gwinnett County lifeguards came from several different aquatics facilities across the County and were selected based on their outstanding attention to safety, CPR/AED, first aid, teamwork and athletic skills. Guards honed these skills over the course of the summer with both written and physical skill practice.

The team consisted of seasoned lifeguard veterans who have previously participated in the state competition. Jacob Finco is a college student, working summers as a lifeguard at Mountain Park Aquatic Center in Stone Mountain. Holly Smith is a college graduate and long-time lifeguard. Aiden Hall is a student at Parkview High School works part-time at Mountain Park Aquatic Center. Aliyah Berry, both a lifeguard instructor and certified water safety instructor, brings several years of expertise to the team dynamic. Joel Nickerson is an assistant pool manager and has participated at the state level on several occasions. Cole Hembree is a college student studying to become an educator. Aaron Murdock is a recent college graduate who assists with recruiting and training aquatics staff at various aquatic centers.



The competition consisted of events that evaluated teamwork, athletic ability, and lifeguard knowledge. The GCPR team proudly earned 38 points with high finishes in most of the events taking first place in the swim relay and critical incident events, second in the rescue relay and capture the flag events, and finished third in the triathlon and rescue board events. Arthur Bedard from Mountain Park Aquatic Center and Christen Hardy from Bethesda Park Aquatic Center coached the team.

Aquatics Coordinator Christine Greenfield said, "winning is a tribute to Gwinnett's aquatics training program."

"We are extremely proud of the lifeguard team and coaches for their victory at state," she said. "Our lifeguard team takes great pride in their training and skill execution and they were excited to use it in a competition setting".