Many of the top lifeguard rowers and alumni will get one last chance to compete this season at today's sixth annual Hammer Row in the Seaview Harbor section of Egg Harbor Township.

The 4-mile race for doubles crews begins at 6:30 p.m. The race is open to all.

The row begins at the Seaview Harbor beach and goes through the intracoastal waterway of Longport to the Margate municipal pier and back again.

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Margate alumnus Carl Smallwood Jr. has won all five previous Hammer Rows - the first three with Margate's Chris Graves and the last two with brother Greg Smallwood, a Margate patrol captain. Carl Smallwood, the bow, will team with Greg again today. The Smallwoods won in 37 minutes, 28 seconds last year.

Also set to go are Wildwood Crest's Brendan Cunningham and Terry McGovern, who won the Bud Tarbotton Memorial North Wildwood Beach Patrol Around The Island Row on Aug. 15. McGovern was second in the Hammer Row in 2010 with Matt Benedetto in 37:47.

Margate's Ashton Funk and Chuck Gowdy, doubles winners at the South Jersey Championships on Aug. 12, will row with different partners today. Funk will team with Margate's Joe Palmer, and Gowdy will pair with Mike Doherty, his former partner with the Atlantic City Beach Patrol. Gowdy and Doherty won South Jersey doubles titles for A.C. in 2001, 2004 and 2005.

Graves will row today with Margate's Bob Bechtel. Ventnor's David Funk will row with John Swift, a Margate alumnus. Other contenders are Avalon's Craig Whitehead and Shane McGrath, and Longport's Mike F. McGrath and Sean Duffey.

Female crews include Colleen Smith and Alicia Bell of Sea Isle City, Cara Thomas and Beth Desmond of Upper Township, and Longport's Jane Mittelman and Katie Adams.

The event honors the late Michael D. McGrath, a Longport Beach Patrol co-captain and the patrol's top oarsman for many years. McGrath, the father of Mike F. McGrath, died of cancer in 2005.

Contact Guy Gargan:


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