Several beach patrols have a chance for victory today at the 44th annual Beschen-Callahan Memorial Lifeguard Races in North Wildwood.
The six-race event begins at 6 p.m. at 15th Avenue beach.
The seven competing beach patrols are defending champion Stone Harbor, North Wildwood, Sea Isle City, Avalon, Wildwood Crest, Upper Township and Wildwood.
The races are the doubles row, the ocean swim, the surf dash, the run-swim, the singles row and the can run, which is a one-man surf dash. Scoring is 5-3-2-1 for the first four places.
Stone Harbor won the team title in 2011 with a second-place finish in each race for 18 points.
The Beschen-Callahan Memorials is similar in format to last week's Cape May County Championships, which was also won by Stone Harbor. But other teams did well, too.
"Most of the lineups are about the same as the Countys, and the guys have had seven more days to prepare," said North Wildwood Beach Patrol Capt. Bill Ciavarelli. "There should be some very good racing."
Stone Harbor brings doubles rowers Darrick Kobierowski and Dennis Bakey, swimmer Sean McCall and Tim Hayes in the run-swim. Kobierowski also will row singles. Kobierowski and Bakey were second in the County doubles race, while McCall took the swim, Hayes won the run-swim and Kobierowski was first in the singles.
"I expect Stone Habor and Sea Isle to be tough," said Tony Cavalier, the North Wildwood Beach Patrol Chief. "Stone Harbor should be the favorite. We're going to be competitive, with a good swimmer (Sean Regan, who was second to McCall a week ago), a good surf dash team and the defending champion in the can run (Tim Fynes)."
Other teams could have a shot if they put it together. Avalon's Erich Wolf, last year's Bechen-Callahan singles winner, was second to Kobierowski last week by two seconds.
The Upper Township surf dash team of Pat Curran, Dan Palombo, Jim Dugan and Ford Palmer returns after winning the County race. North Wildwood was second but could challenge today, along with Sea Isle, which won the Beschen-Callahan dash last year.
The event, which began in 1969, honors the late Jim Beschen and Mike Callahan, two North Wildwood lifeguards who were killed in the Vietnam War.
"We always look forward to this event, with the Beschen and Callahan families here," said Ciavarelli. "We have 17 rookie guards this year, the most ever, and we give them an appreciation for Jimmy and Michael, who were guys their age."
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