LONGPORT – It looks like Longport will get to host the South Jersey Lifeguard Championships again next summer. Members of the Longport Beach Patrol excelled at the championships held Friday night, Aug. 9 on the beach at 33rd Avenue.
Although Margate took first place in the rowing events, Longport excelled in the swim and garnered two points more overall than its neighbor to the north to win the championship.
It was the fourth consecutive year that Longport lifeguards swam and rowed away with the championship trophy, and the first time since the three-event format – doubles row, swim and singles row – was instituted in 1973 that a beach patrol won four in a row. Margate came in second.
Longport swimmer Joey Tepper, 17, a senior at Egg Harbor Township High School, placed first, second or third in all three events, taking first in the swimming event and maintaining his championship status for a second year.
Margate’s Chuck Gowdy and Chris Graves repeated their championship win of 2018 in the doubles row. It was the third time in four years that the duo took first place in the doubles row. It was Gowdy’s 12th win in the championship series.
In what was perhaps the most exciting event of the evening, rower Chris Spiers of Margate beat out Kevin Perry of Ocean City to take the championship title in the singles row, and had the honor of being hoisted by his teammates in the Margate Beach Patrol’s iconic green surfboat.
Perry came up big for Ocean City, garnering second place for his team and pushing Ocean City to fourth overall. The singles row, a shorter version of the same out-and-back course as the doubles, had a lot of action as boats were trying to catch waves and give themselves an advantage on the way in. Perry rowed a straight course, caught a swell in the middle section, and then rowed at the end to pass a few boats and finish in second, narrowly missing first place.
“I just told myself to keep rowing. It’s Jerseys —now is the time to pull something off,” Perry said as he eyed the finish line.
The championship, now in its 80th year, drew a big crowd of spectators, including present and former lifeguards, family members and fans cheering for their team. The winning team not only gets bragging rights, but they also get to host the event the next year.
- Longport, 13
- Margate, 11
- Ventnor, 4
- Ocean City, 4
- Wildwood Crest, 4
- Chuck Gowdy/Chris Graves, Margate
- Mike McGrath/Sean Duffey, Longport
- Shawn Slattery /Brett Hanson, Ventnor
- Kohn Knies/Jake Smith, Cape May
- Danny Rogers/Pat Scannapieco, Sea Isle City
- Joey Tepper, Longport
- John Burkett, Wildwood Crest
- Brendan Finnegan, Brigantine
- Brendan Lewis, Wildwood
- Joe Rogers, Margate
- Christ Spiers, Margate
- Kevin Perry, Ocean City
- Mike McGrath, Longport
- Vince Granese, Atlantic City
- Ron DeFelice, Brigantine
Staff Writer Leslie Graham contributed to this report.