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spotlight
Margate mother to swim English Channel in August

Victoria Dolceamore, a Margate mother of three, fulfills one of her dreams on Aug. 4 when she joins a relay team swimming the English Channel.

Dolceamore, 50, is an Atlantic City native, who swam in the ocean in Margate and in Longport as a child, as well as at the Mainland Recreation Association, where late Atlantic City Mayor and state Sen. Jim Whelan served as coach.

“I like to set goals, especially something that seems like it could possibly be unattainable or really very, very challenging, because it’s not just something where you can wake up in the morning and just say, ‘I’m going to do it,’” Dolceamore said.

“You have to train. You have to have people behind you that support you and help you. It’s definitely a team effort.”

Dolceamore will be one of four swimmers. Two reserve swimmers also will be on board along with the captain and pilot.

Dolceamore swam her first open water race at age 12 in Atlantic City, and swam her first open water marathon swim around Absecon Island at age 22.

Swimming the 21 miles across the English Channel is an accomplishment that Dolceamore, one of the first female members of the Longport Beach Patrol, always thought about.

The reason this seemed to be the right time to do it was because of the SwimTayka Global Charity.

Each person on Dolceamore’s relay team is asked to raise $2,150 for the SwimTayka Charity.

SwimTayka is a global organization committed to building the next generation of confident swimmers and clean water stewards. SwimTayka provides free swim lessons and environmental education to children in underserved communities, who live along the earth’s open waters.

“I thought that would be a great opportunity to raise awareness in our own community,” said Dolceamore, a 1986 Mainland Regional High School graduate.

Jeff Fusco, treasurer of the Hammonton Swim Club, doesn’t know anyone personally who has swum the English Channel, but he imagines it would be very difficult.

In the Hammonton Swim Club, a four-person relay team of preteens and teens trains 90 minutes each weekday just to swim 50 meters each, Fusco said.

One of the inspirations for Dolceamore is John Kulewicz, 64, of Columbus, Ohio.

For Dolceamore’s 50th birthday, she did a 30K race in Morocco. While in Morocco, she met Kulewicz, one of the few fellow Americans, who was in a bungalow next to hers in a swim camp in the southern part of the country.

Kulewicz has been the captain of an English Channel relay swimming team three times.

“I think she is going to make a major contribution to the team. Victoria is a strong and experienced swimmer. She has a strongly positive attitude. She respects the water, and she will be a great teammate by virtue of her personality,” Kulewicz said.

To prepare for the English Channel swim, Dolceamore has been doing a great deal of pool training at the Jewish Community Center in Margate and at the Brigantine Aquatic Center, where she also works as a part-time instructor for the Greenheads swimming program.

Sari Carroll, head coach of the Brigantine Greenheads Swim Team, said Dolceamore practices a couple of times a week in their pool.

Nine Greenheads members will do some open-water swimming with Dolceamore next month, Carroll said.

“We are really excited for her,” said Carroll, who knows someone who 20 years ago swam the English Channel. “I think it’s amazing.”

Dolceamore has been swimming long distances, and sprinting and nonstop swimming for 60 to 90 minutes. In April, she went into the Atlantic Ocean to try to acclimate to the cold water.

“It was quite cold. It was in the low 40s. The Channel itself will most likely not be above 62 degrees. They said it would be between 58 and 62 degrees. The whole idea is to get used to cold water because you are not permitted to use a wetsuit,” Dolceamore said.

Dolceamore realizes the Engish Channel relay, similar to the Moroccan swim, is out of the ordinary and not what most people do in their lifetime, but she hopes to inspire people to realize they too can find something within themselves to help change something, fight injustice, raise awareness or help someone in need.

“It only takes a moment to create action. Action creates momentum. Momentum creates a path that others may find helpful, enlightening or simply open their eyes to something they didn’t know about or take them on a journey they didn’t know existed or help them get started,” Dolceamore said.


Entertainment
spotlight
Season's first beach concert caps big weekend in Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY — Armed with bottled water, cowboy hats, and lots of excitement, thousands of fans of country music star Sam Hunt traveled to the city Sunday for the first beach concert of the season. 

The concert, one of three beach concerts this summer, capped one of the most historic weekends in recent Atlantic City history that also featured two casino openings and 1 million estimated visitors to the area. 

“We came here yesterday to check out the new Hard Rock,” Mike Tirado, of Marlboro, said while standing in line Sunday. “It’s perfect timing.”

Fans attending the beach concert also had to deal with sweltering heat, as temperatures reached into the mid-90s on Sunday. 

With the sun shining all day and people packed close together on the beach, the temperature probably felt above 100 degrees, Press Meteorologist Joe Martucci said. 

"The record is 99 degrees, and we didn't quite get there. But I imagine heat indexes (throughout the day) reached about 100," he said. "We also didn't have much of a sea breeze, which didn't help."

Jennifer Tornetta, a spokeswoman for AtlantiCare, said the medical tent started filling up early with heat-related illnesses. 

The medical tent, which was set up inside the concert area, had 25 beds. Medical personnel were also prepared to give IVs to anyone that needed them, she said. 

Sgt. Kevin Fair of the Atlantic City Police Department said there were 41 medical calls throughout the day and one person was taken to the hospital. 

There were no arrests made, he said. 

"It was a very good day," he said. "Everything went smoothly." 

The first acts before Hunt began around 2 p.m., and the whole concert ended around 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening.

That didn't stop thousands of people from lining up hours early to try and get the best spot on the beach. 

Before heading into the concert, the consensus among the crowd was the intensity of the heat. Groups of people were in bathing suits, attendees draped towels over their heads to stay cool and vendors sold ice cream throughout the crowd.

Inside the gates, there were hydration centers and mist tents set up for people to cool down or refill a water bottle.

Coming to the show from Cape May, Coral Stevensen was also in the ocean cooling off before the show. She came to Atlantic City with her friend to listen to Hunt sing live – and was hoping to hear his hits “Single for the Summer” and “Make You Miss Me.”

By noon, the beach was filled with hundreds of people, and dozens in lines along the beach near Martin Luther King Boulevard. Some jumped into the ocean for a swim and to cool off while they waited in line.

“I basically like all of (Sam Hunt’s) songs; he’s fun to listen to,” she said.

Friends from the suburbs of Pennsylvania – Emerald Leon, 26, Briana Cummins, 22, and Kerstin Torres, 27— sat on the beach applying sunscreen near the ocean while waiting for the concert to start. Torres said she saw Sam Hunt play last year and is back for round two.

“I’m the country one,” Torres said. “I’ve always loved country music; I grew up with it since I was little."

The Atlantic City Police Department debuted its new piece of equipment, called Skywatch, which is an elevated platform with multiple cameras to help it keep an eye on the crowd to spot problems early.

The cameras were connected to the Atlantic City Headquarters for Intelligence Logistics Electronic Surveillance located in the police department, Fair said. 

Water was the only drink concert goers were allowed to bring in, and then only one, 1 liter factory sealed bottle. But organizers provided water for refilling 2 liter bottles and backpack type water holders that were allowed in if empty.

Water sellers on the boardwalk were doing a brisk business.

Blankets, chairs and tarps were not permitted, but fans could bring beach towels, baby strollers and small backpacks. No large beach umbrellas were allowed, or anything else that would block other people's views. Fans were searched when entering the show.

Hunt kicked off what will be a three-act beach concert series this summer. Demi Lovato will be performing July 26 and The Chainsmokers will perform July 29.


Education
After months of vacancies, Pleasantville may fill school board

For the first time this year, the school board in Pleasantville may have all nine members seated at one time.

At a board meeting June 12, James Buford was sworn onto the board after nearly six months of limbo, bringing the number of seated members to eight.

The other vacant seat previously belonged to Ethel Seymore, who died in February. The seat was advertised in the spring and the board has selected Hannah Erickson to fill Seymore’s seat, school board solicitor James Carroll said.

Buford, who was elected in November to a one-year, unexpired term, did not have his criminal background check completed prior to the January reorganization meeting.

“It took a while to complete his background investigation. He had an attorney; there was an issue that was cleared up with his attorney,” said Carroll.

Carroll declined to elaborate on the issue and Buford’s attorney was not available for comment.

Buford’s term expires in December.

Carroll said that Buford’s situation differed from that of former board member Richard Norris, who was elected to a full term in November 2016 and then removed from the board the following spring for failing to obtain a background check. He said that Norris was sworn in already when he was removed.

“If a board member misses three meetings, then the board has the option to put them on notice that they intend to remove them from the board,” Carroll said. “They don’t have to remove anyone. The board does have the option.”

Carroll said that Erickson will not be sworn in until she completed the background check and required training.

Meanwhile, sitting board member Lawrence “Tony” Davenport said he will not be seeking re-election in the fall as he recently won the Democratic primary for Ward 1 of City Council.

“I’m looking forward to getting on City Council and doing something different,” Davenport said this week.

Board President Carla Thomas was also seeking the Democratic nomination for City Council in Ward 2, but lost to the incumbent, Lockland Scott.

Thomas did not respond to a request for comment.

That leaves three full, three-year seats up for re-election — Davenport’s, Buford’s and that of Elyse Sanchez — and the one-year unexpired term of Seymore. Seymore was last elected in 2016 and would have been up for re-election in 2019.

Carroll said finding board members to fill seats has traditionally been hard because it is an all-volunteer and “thankless” job with a lot of required hours and input.

For those interested in running for school board, the deadline to submit nominating petitions to the county clerk is July 30.


Dale Gerhard / Staff Photographer  

Crowds at the start of the concert. Atlantic City kicks off the summer beach concert season with county star Sam Hunt, Sunday July 1, 2018. (Dale Gerhard / Press of Atlantic City)