John Ryan Sr. and Jr. Honored by Rotary

The East Hampton Rotary has named John Ryan Sr. and John Ryan Jr. as their 2013 Persons of the Year. The father and son lifeguarding team will be honored at the Rotary meeting on April 15.

Ryan Sr. has trained East Hampton Town lifeguards for some 40 years and, together with his son, coordinate the Town‘s Junior Lifeguard program. Ryan Jr. teaches sixth grade at East Hampton Middle School and he is chief of the Town Lifeguard Corps. Both men are integral members of East Hampton Town‘s Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad, they helped get the local YMCA built and, as a result, form the East Hampton Hurricanes swim team. They frequently participate in lifeguarding competitions and take part in many charity events throughout the year. Neither man is a member of the Rotary.

“They just picked me out of the blue,” Ryan Sr. said on Thursday, noting that the Rotary chose him and Ryan Jr. primarily for their involvement with lifeguarding and the Volunteer Ocean Rescue. “We’re very proud of what we have out here, but it’s not just Johnny and I,” he added, explaining that the Ocean Rescue Squad is a success because of the hard work of its many volunteers. “I’m embarrassed by all this publicity for me,” Ryan Sr. said, “but I’m not embarrassed by the good work we’re doing.”

The longtime lifeguard pointed out that their Junior Lifeguard program educates local kids over four months of Sundays during the year, and East End waters are much safer for it. East Hampton High School‘s J.C. Barrientos demonstrated that fact last summer when he saved a drowning swimmer in Napeague. “That kid was uncertified,” Ryan Sr. said, describing how 17-year-old Barrientos remembered his Junior Lifeguard training and had the presence of mind to call 911, grab a floatation device and then swim 200 yards out, beyond the breakers, to save Nicola Devito‘s life. “Unbelievable,” Ryan Sr. remarked.

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