CAPE MAY — Rob Moran’s knowledge of current events came in handy again Monday at the 38th Cape May SuperAthalon.

Moran, a 10th-year lifeguard for the host beach patrol, used his experience to successfully defend his title and win the event for the third time in the last four years.

“It means a lot to win this,” said Moran, who also works as a public defender in Atlantic City. “Every beach patrol has its own race, and this is Cape May’s event.”

Moran, 30, completed the 2.3-mile run, 1.5-mile row and quarter-mile swim in 44 minutes, 58.9 seconds. Wildwood’s Patrick Clemens finished second in 45:42.4, and Ocean City’s Brian Theiss edged Ocean Beach’s Michael Barrett by two-tenths of a second to place third in 46:27.5.

Moran was mired in fourth place after the first two legs of the triathlon-style event but relied on his experience swimming in the tricky currents on Cannone Beach to earn the win.

Competitors were required to turn around an orange, rubber buoy approximately 200 yards offshore before heading back to the beach. The first three swimmers were swept past the buoy and thus forced to swim back against the current to make the turn.

Avalon’s Michael Hogan, a 19-year-old second-year lifeguard from St. Louis, led the race after the run and row but wound up finishing 13th among 14.

“The swim is supposed to be a quarter-mile, but I probably swam a mile and a half out there,” Hogan said. “I thought if I had the lead after the row that I had a good shot at winning, but that current was really pushing us. I didn’t see the (buoy) until I was past it, and by then it was too late.”

Moran entered the water about 50 yards to the left of the buoy and instead of angling toward it, swam straight and let the current carry him.

Once he stood up in the water and chugged up the beach to the checkered flags, the crowd erupted in cheers, chanting “Cape May! Cape May!”

“I’m 30 now, so this is getting harder and harder,” he said with a smile. “I didn’t have the best run, and I lost some ground in the row, but I know that current is very deceptive. It might not look very strong from (the beach), but it is.”

Aside from the Moran’s crowd support, the biggest yells were for Clemens, a 39-year-old Philadelphia firefighter who is in his second year with the Wildwood Beach Patrol after spending eight years as a lifeguard in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

He had watched the SuperAthalon for years and decided to try out to be Wildwood’s entry this year. After being selected, he prepared for Monday’s race by swimming the course Sunday night.

“I literally hit the turnaround buoy with my hip and pulled myself around it,” Clemens said. “I saw another guy next to me, and I yelled out, ‘Wildwood!’ but I didn’t hear where he was from. I had no idea what place I was in, so I just swam scared the whole way in. To finish second is just an unbelievable feeling.”

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