The boys (and girls) of summer are back

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Brian Cunniff/Participants break away from the starting line at the beginning of the swim race at last summer’s Cape May County Lifeguard Championships.
Brian Cunniff / Participants break away from the starting line at the beginning of the swim race at last summer’s Cape May County Lifeguard Championships.  South Jersey lifeguard competition season begins next week

Do you really think the beach lifeguards of South Jersey are merely young people passing the time, sitting passively on a raised chair staring out at the ocean and checking out the occasional bikini-clad young lady strolling by on the beach?

Well, think again.

These are extensively trained, well-conditioned athletes who guard our beachfront, making sure beachgoers are safe while they frolic in the ocean and keeping general order on the beaches they serve.

 Lifeguards rush back to the beach during the can run, a race that simulates a lifeguard performing a rescue after jumping from a lifeguard stand, that is held during the Beschen-Callahan Memorial Lifeguard Races. 
Jen Marra/Lifeguards rush back to the beach during the can run, a race that simulates a lifeguard performing a rescue after jumping from a lifeguard stand, that is held during the Beschen-Callahan Memorial Lifeguard Races. Those skills are showcased on many a night over the summer during the various South Jersey Lifeguard Chiefs Association official lifeguard competitions, which include various swimming, rowing, running and other events that highlight the athleticism and training of the area’s beach lifeguards.

There are 26 official South Jersey Lifeguard Chiefs Association events this summer, most of which include participants from Cape May County beach patrols. It all begins Thursday evening, July 3, with the popular Cape May County Lifeguard Championships in Wildwood Crest, a competition that includes two rowing races, a swim race, a rescue board race, a 2-mile run and a surf dash relay.

The county championship race always offers intrigue, allowing lifeguards and lifeguard race fans to get their first look at each patrol’s field of talent.

Jen Marra/A crew from the Cape May Beach Patrol navigates the waves during the doubles row at one of last summer’s many lifeguard competitions.
Jen Marra/A crew from the Cape May Beach Patrol navigates the waves during the doubles row at one of last summer’s many lifeguard competitions.  The first of four women’s-only races will follow on Tuesday, July 8 in Longport. The next evening, one of the most unique lifeguard competitions on the circuit, the Cape May SuperAthalon, will be held. That event is a run-row-swim triathlon featuring just one lifeguard from each beach patrol in the region.

The Beschen-Callahan Memorial Lifeguard Races are slated for Friday, July 11 in North Wildwood. It’s an event that honors a pair of former North Wildwood Beach Patrol members, Jim Beschen and Mike Callahan, who were killed during the Vietnam War in the mid to late 1960s.

The Atlantic City Lifeguard Classic, scheduled for Friday, July 18, is the first competition of the summer that regularly includes all 15 members of the SJLCA, from Brigantine to Cape May Point. From there, it’s the “Big 3” races on successive Fridays – The Dutch Hoffman Memorial Lifeguard Championships in Wildwood July 25, the Margate Memorials Aug. 1 and – the most important race of the summer for the top lifeguard competitors – the South Jersey Lifeguard Championships scheduled for Aug. 8 in Ocean City.

Jen Marra/A Wildwood Crest lifeguard goes airborne while moving over a wave during last summer’s Cape May SuperAthalon, a run-row-swim triathlon designed specifically to showcase beach lifeguarding skills.
Jen Marra/A Wildwood Crest lifeguard goes airborne while moving over a wave during last summer’s Cape May SuperAthalon, a run-row-swim triathlon designed specifically to showcase beach lifeguarding skills. In between and thereafter are some other popular lifeguard events, such the Six-Mile Bay Rowing Race in Strathmere July 22, the South Jersey Pool Championships in Ocean City July 27, the Cape May Point Women’s Challenge July 28, the David J. Kerr Memorial Races in Avalon Aug. 3 and the Bud Tarbotton Memorial Around the Island Row Aug. 11. 


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