LI's R.C. Saint-Amour dives into 'Survivor'

Twenty-five editions old tonight, "Survivor: The Philippines" has a former major-league baseball MVP (Jeff Kent), a former sitcom star (Lisa Whelchel, "The Facts of Life") and three former cast mates who left because of injury (Jonathan Penner, Michael Skupin and Russell Swan). But Five Towns residents will be most interested in this name: Roberta "R.C." Saint-Amour, Hewlett Harbor resident, former Town of Hempstead beach lifeguard and much, much more. We talked to R.C., 27, earlier this week.

You're L.I. born and bred?

Spent my entire life in Hewlett Harbor, then went to college [Wellesley]. I'm a fourth- or fifth- generation [resident] -- all of the Five Towns. I have a sister [Missy, 28] and brother [Scott, 30] and a close-knit family father, Craig; mother, Jayne], and we grew up going to the Oceanside pool together. That's how we spent our summers and what made me become a swimmer -- having that experience.

Tell me about that swimming.

I started when I was 8, but had my first race when I was 5 -- for the Oceanside Greenflies, a summer rec team. . . . I later swam with Express [swimming] at Hofstra, the LBA -- Long Beach Aquatics -- rec team and from there went to the Empire State Games.

You also swam the English Channel with your sister and father as a relay team?

As Town of Hempstead beach lifeguard, I did competitions there and just took it to another level after graduating from college. We signed up and took two years to prepare -- swimming out in Long Beach and Coney Island. It took 11 hours -- you end up swimming more than 21 miles because of the currents . . . and it's in 60-degree water. You can't feel your face or hands or anything. I think it did pop up to 61 degrees, and that was the hardest part. But we did finish, [which was] amazing because there's a 7 percent success rate.

You worked for Manhattan investment banker Landmark Ventures before "Survivor" taped. What's the status there?

They replaced me while I was gone, and I came back to no job, which was a little devastating -- that's the hardest part you go through with this wonderful experience: The sacrifices you make in order to have your dream come true. It's tough sometimes, but I try not to think about it.


'Survivor' redeems itself this season

BY VERNE GAY, verne.gay@newsday.com

THE SHOW "Survivor: Philippines"

WHEN | WHERE Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBS/2

MY SAY Welcome back, old friend, and welcome back to basics. Last season's "One World" was a big disappointment by "Survivor" standards -- less than 12 million viewers for the first time ever and zero buzz. With "Philippines," the show is reaching to the deep past. It has three former cast mates who left for medical reasons and who are now seeking redemption as leaders of three separate tribes.

In recent seasons, "Survivor" has gone gimmick-happy, but tonight sounds like a return to the good old days. Speaking of gimmicks and redemption, there will be no Redemption Island, but immunity idols remain -- and this time, they're hidden in plain sight. That should make island life more pleasant for everyone, right?


Meet the 'Survivor' tribes

KALABAW

Sarah Dawson

Katie Hanson

Jeff Kent

Dana Lambert

Jonathan Penner

Carter Williams

MATSING

Malcolm Freberg

Zane Knight

Angie Layton

Roxanne "Roxy" Morris

Denise Stapley

Russell Swan

TANDANG

Abi-Maria Gomes

Roberta "R.C." Saint-Amour

Artis Silvester

Michael Skupin

Lisa Whelchel

Peter "Pete" Yurkowski

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