Endless Summer 2019

Wrapping Up the Beach Patrols’ Summer

By Dave Bontempo

Patrick Scannapieco and Danny Rogers

Andrew Torney

It was the summer of appreciation, a sprinkle of strong results and an anticipation of 2020 for the Sea Isle City  and Upper Township beach patrols.


They made marks in the racing, administrative and aesthetic realm throughout the season.  Both achieved some success, improved steadily and have the capability of returning a nucleus next year. They also engaged the public by hosting events benefiting charitable causes.


SEA ISLE: Summer-Long Spotlight

Sea Isle City enjoyed a strong year on a number of fronts. The patrol celebrated its centennial, gaining high visibility via the mayor’s office, a boat parade, historical tours and enhanced public awareness. The annual SICBP Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremony topped it off.


The mid-July spectacle brought hundreds of guards here to witness the once-in-a-lifetime celebration. There were likely more lifeguards and families assembled here on that weekend than at any other time in history. Alumni came from Canada, Florida and Hawaii.


Madison Lewis


“A lot of people feel strongly about what we were doing outside the competition area regarding our efforts to provide safe beaches,” says Renny Steele, the chief of the Sea Isle City patrol. “We really stepped up our efforts to communicate to the public in the areas of beach safety and water safety.


“We had a Saturday safety tip each week, just making the public aware of things they may not remember,” he adds. “I don’t know how many times I have seen a young child whimpering on the sand because of the heat and his parents don’t feel that because their feet are calloused. The poor kids are in pain. These are the types of things we remind people of.”


The patrol also hosted the Captain Bill Gallagher 10-Mile Run, attracting more than 1,000 participants, and its 1-mile ocean swim.


Callie Reed and Madison Ulrich


Regarding competition, Steele exits the racing season with optimism for next year. Rowers Pat Scannapieco and Danny Rogers placed third for a strong finish in the doubles row in the Margate Memorials and hit the scoring board with a fifth-place effort in the South Jerseys. That put them in the top third of the circuit’s 15 patrols and gave them something to build on.


“Pat is a veteran rower and Danny is just 17, and in the middle of the season, they started getting better and better at competing as one unit,” Steele says. “I expect them to be exceptional next season.”


Callie Reed and Madison Ulrich


The patrol’s female athletes gained a strong start to the season. Kristi Rohrer ran the first leg of the surf dash and got the patrol a lead it never relinquished at the Longport Women’s Invitational. Rohrer, Kaitlyn Hnatkowsky, Jenna Mesisca and Mandi Basantis won the surf event in 4:48.7, by a considerable 26 seconds. With a course longer than normal, Sea Isle mixed some expertise with its sprinting capability.


Patrick Scannapieco and Danny Rogers


Sea Isle City has a core of young performers who can be expected to be even better next year.


Aidan Reed



Upper Township captain Bill Handley has reached a consensus with his staff: Ryan Fisher and Kyle Rumaker have become the patrol’s best-ever doubles-rowing tandem.


The twosome blossomed last year, earning triumphs in the Cape May County, Tri-Resorts, Atlantic City Lifeguard Classic and Upper Township’s Bay Races. While new competition stole some of their thunder this year, Fisher and Rumaker delivered several strong performances and consistently finished at or near the top of each event.


They opened the season with a repeat victory in the season-opening Cape May County championships and later placed a strong second in the Atlantic City Classic, which brought together all 15 patrols on the South Jersey circuit.


Meredith Steele


Fisher and Rumaker added a second-place finish in the Six-Mile Bay Race, displaying effectiveness at distance to go with the shorter ocean races.


“They have done well in many major races and the chemistry between them made them stand out,” Handley says. “They are two veteran and high-skilled rowers who have learned from our veterans about rowing on the ocean.”


Handley also touted the efforts of Lindsay Robbins, a 16-year-old swimmer and paddle boarder from Cape May Tech. She made an immediate impact, finishing third in the swim at the Howarth Invitational and second in paddle boarding at the Longport Invitational.


Eve Chiarello and Jane Hadley


The patrol’s philanthropic highlights included its Bay Race, which raised more than $2,000 to combat multiple sclerosis. There were more than 30 crews and paddlers for an event that grows in popularity and participation each year. Handley started this event, which has raised in the neighborhood of $150,000 over the last quarter of a century.


As the Endless Summer descends, Handley cautions swimmers about maintaining safety diligence.


“Although we have enjoyed a safe summer with rescues down and conditions being relatively calm, the August and September surf can be bigger and rougher,” he says. “We can’t stress strongly enough that people need to swim in front of lifeguards.”

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