Jones Beach had been the '88 All-Women champion and Sirey, a sophomore who swims the 200 individual medley for American University, has been a lifeguard at Jones Beach for three years. "We used to win everything...and then L.A. County came," she said with a smile. "Before L.A. County showed up, I got first in the ironwoman. This year I was fourth."
Sirey was not the only disappointed competitor in the ironwoman. After the race O'Donnell said, "I got second to Diane in the ironwoman last year, and I came here to win the thing. But the California girls are so good. Last year I even hung Diane's picture on my mirror, I wanted to beat her so badly. I run a lot and I swim a lot, but she beat me on the surfboard."
O'Donnell would also finish third to first-place Graner in the final individual event of the day, the surf rescue. This race calls for the rescuer to swim out 150 yards from shore, towing a torpedo-shaped flotation device, and pull the awaiting "victim" to safety.
It's not by chance that L.A. is so strong. Many of its lifeguards work year-round, and its training program is one of the toughest. " L.A. County's like a paramilitary organization," Latta said—or at least like boot camp. To become one of L.A. County's 600 lifeguards, Latta said, "you have to start out with a 1,000-meter ocean swim in winter without wet suits. The top 100 [out of a usual complement of about 300 aspirants] are then interviewed, and the selection board takes the 60 most-qualified candidates. In the interview you have to answer questions about surf characteristics, decision-making and preparedness. You learn to follow orders. There are lieutenants, captains, a chief and ocean lifeguards."
The last events of the All-Women were a pair of three-person relays. Sirey saved the honor of Jones Beach by anchoring the Easterners to a win over runner-up L.A. County in the swim-run relay, swimming 150 yards out around a buoy, 25 yards to another buoy and 150 yards back to shore before the final 25-yard sprint to the finish. And in the run-swim-paddle relay, Latta ran, Graner swam and Luera paddled like, well, a rocket scientist, to claim L.A. County's final victory and its second straight Division I title. Not just another day at the beach for L.A. County, for sure.