Smith Point lifeguard Tim Delaney was recognized Thursday for his 50...

Smith Point lifeguard Tim Delaney was recognized Thursday for his 50 years of service by having a stairway leading down to the Shirley beach renamed for him. Credit: Tom Lambui

For nearly 50 years, Tim Delaney has manned his perch in the lifeguard chair at Smith Point County Park, diligently watching that swimmers remained safe in Suffolk County waters.

On Thursday, Suffolk officials honored Delaney as the staircase leading to Smith Point's beach was renamed for him.

"The lifeguards at Smith Point have had the honor of working alongside, and under the guidance, of an exceptional leader in Tim Delaney," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said during a news conference at the Shirley beach. "His unwavering commitment, dedication, and exemplary service made him the longest serving lifeguard in the history of Suffolk County parks. Tim's journey serves as an inspiration to all the men and women who protect our beaches and protect our residents and visitors."

Delaney, then a 17-year-old highly recruited soccer player, began working as a county lifeguard in 1974, and eventually became assistant chief. During the non-summer months, he worked as an English teacher at Rocky Point High School and later earned a law degree. 

In Delaney's seven-year tenure as the county's chief lifeguard, the Smith Point Ocean Rescue team achieved their first of nine United States Lifesaving Association championships, Bellone said, and at the age of 57, he became the oldest national finalist competitor in the contest.

"It's been an honor to work with the best lifeguards in the country that have demonstrated that by making sure everyone in Suffolk County — every patron — is safe when they leave this beach and all of our other beaches," Delaney said.

Suffolk County Chief Lifeguard Kevin Kolar said he'd known Delaney since he was a teenager. 

"And over those years he's taught me and the staff here how to be professional; how to be a leader and most importantly, how to be a hard worker," Kolar said.

Bellone also announced that Smith Point would remain open for two additional weekends after Labor Day, through Sept. 17, with lifeguards on duty from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

"By extending the summer season, we aim to offer not only time for relaxation, recreation, fun in the sun; of course all of that, but we know that it's also a good thing for local businesses," Bellone said.

With Tom Lambui

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