Hampton University

Featured Story

HU Lifeguards Compete, Place Third

(Left to Right:) Cole Tillman, Morgan Turner, Princess Heard, Jodi Jensen,
Essence Fisher-Hobson, Meagan Ivey and Josh Nowicki

Hampton University student lifeguards placed third in a lifeguard competition sponsored by the Peninsula Lifeguard Association (PLA) in July. HU’s team, which consisted of students Meagan Ivey, Essence Fisher-Hobson, Morgan Turner, Cole Tillman and Princess Heard, was led by HU Aquatics Director Jodi Jensen.

Jensen served as team captain and event organizer for the competition, held at Windy Point Pool in York County. The events included a ring buoy toss where lifeguards threw a ring buoy to a target of either 20 feet or 35 feet, and a brick retrieval exercise, where 12, 10 pound bricks are in a 12 foot crate of water, and competing lifeguards remove them in a specific period of time.

The other two events were a rescue tube relay and backboard relay. The final event was the spirit award, where teams did a cheer to reflect their organization, which was led by Ivey, a junior at HU.

The competition was a grand opportunity for learning, as well as exposure, Jensen said.
“The purpose of the PLA Lifeguard Competition is to promote camaraderie amongst local lifeguards. It was a great opportunity for HU lifeguards to compete against other organizations,” she said.“They were excited and trained hard for the event. The lifeguards were able to show off their skills, and it was great exposure for Hampton University Aquatics.”

In Fall 2008, HU became the second Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to offer a concentration in aquatics. Alabama A&M University is the other. At HU, aquatics is offered through the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HYPR).

Ivey, who led the spirit exercise by dressing in lifeguard, pirate-themed props and leading HU’s signature ‘Rock the Blue and White’ cheer, said the competition offered those in the swimming community and at HU a chance to witness the aquatic team’s prowess.

“The most challenging and most fun part of the competition was the fact that we were the only minority team and the smallest. For the brick retrieval exercise, we worked all week on campus to try to bring up multiple bricks in our pool to build tolerance for the depth, ” she said. "It felt great being in the competition. I felt even better when we placed third based off spirit.”

The July event marked the competition’s eighth year. This year it was renamed The Peninsula Lifeguard Association Eric Arnold Lifeguard Competition, after Eric Arnold, owner of Douglas Aquatics, who passed away unexpectedly in March, Jensen said. Arnold was a friend of Jensen’s and heavily involved in the PLA. The PLA is made up of aquatic organizations such as HU, public parks and recreation agencies, as well as private sector agencies that staff their facilities with lifeguards.

“As the event organizer, it was very important to me to have the HU Lifeguards participate in this year’s competition,” she said.“The lifeguards were very excited for the opportunity, but also to show their support for me.”

Jensen plans to take another group of lifeguards to next year’s contest.

- Leha Byrd