Despite the grey skies and roiling ocean swells, 196 swimmers competed at the 38th annual T. John Carey Masters Swim Saturday morning, July 15.
The mile ocean swim, which began at 42nd Street and finished at the 34th Street beach, is held in honor of Carey, a former Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguard and a longtime teacher and coach at Ocean City High School.
The top three female and male competitors were a surprisingly young crowd, three of six being 18 and under.
Joey Tepper, 15, of Egg Harbor Township and a rookie at the Masters Swim, took home the gold with a time of 18:30.
“Really for me, I’m a distance swimmer, so I can really take things out and hold that pace, so that’s kind of what I did in this race,” the Egg Harbor Township Seahawks swimmer said. “I took it out as fast as I could and didn’t stop until I reached the finish line.”
Tepper also swims for the Egg Harbor Township High School swim team, which is coached by Mark Jamieson, who also happens to be the operations chief of the Ocean City Beach Patrol.
Tepper was joined by fellow Seahawk Maggie Wallace, who finished just over a minute behind him with a time of 19:37. Wallace, 17, is a rising senior at Ocean City High School and won the female division of the Masters Swim last year.
“I’m super psyched to come here this year and win it again,” Wallace, a first-year Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguard, said. “By the third buoy, I was feeling good and had found my pace, and the water was actually the perfect temperature, just the way I like it, 68 degrees. I didn’t feel much of a current, and it was definitely a flat swim, which was nice.”
Just two months ago, Wallace raced in the USA Swimming Open Water National Championships at Lake Castaic in California where she was the eighth American finisher and the fourth finisher under 18. This earned her a spot on the U.S. National Junior Team.
Ocean City High School Teammate Andrea Teofanova, 16, was the fourth female overall with a time of 22:15.
“I just got off of a shoulder injury so this was my first open water race this season, and I was a bit anxious about it because I didn’t know how I would feel, but I love racing in the ocean and was eager to get back to it,” the rising junior said. “Luckily, my shoulder felt fine and I felt good racing it. I did this race last year with my friend, Maggie, and it was nice to be back with her this year. I just had fun with it.”
Another Ocean City lifeguard was among the top finishers. Quinn Cassidy, 21, was the second male finisher and the third-place finisher overall.
“I was way more on the inside than anyone else, so I was completely swimming by myself the entire time, but it was a pretty good race,” the University of Florida swimmer said. “I love the Masters Swim. It’s my third time doing it, and I always have a lot of fun.”
Amber Glenn, another Division I collegiate swimmer, snagged second place for the female finishers. Glenn, who just finished her freshman year at Pennsylvania State University, returned to the Masters Swim after a long hiatus. She and Wallace were both part of Ocean City High School’s girls swimming team that won the Group III state championship in 2016.
“This was kind of a last-minute thing for me. I wasn’t really planning on doing it, and it seems like every summer I have something planned on this day,” said Glenn. “It was definitely a good swim for the morning. I’m pretty happy about it.”
Despite the long hiatus, Glenn has been swimming in the open water since she was 11 years old, saying that her former coach in Pleasantville used to lifeguard in Ocean City.
“When I was younger, he would take us out in the mornings after practice,” Glenn said. “That’s how I got started.”
Likewise, third place male finisher Brendan Lewis of Garnet Valley, Pa. also got his start in open water swimming on the shores of Cape May County. (Lewis’s cousins, John and Joe Maloy, were lifeguards with the Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol and have competed in the Masters Swim before and told him about the swim several years ago.” In fact, Joe Maloy, 31, competed triathlon in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I work out with the Wildwood Beach Patrol in the morning, and they told me about it a couple years back. I did it two years ago for the first time, and last year I did it, and I came back this year and did pretty well,” Lewis, 15, said.
“Getting out there was kind of rough because I’m a lot smaller than everybody else, so I kind of got trampled. Then when I turned the first buoy, I saw my one cousin, John (Maloy), so I caught up with him, and I kept next to him the entire race. By the end, he kind of dropped back and I caught a wave and I caught the guy that would’ve gotten third and passed him.”
Also a Pennsylvania native, Gina Cantoral, 15, placed third in the female category.
“I found it online,” the Philadelphian said about the race. “I like to sign up for these kinds of things, and I saw this one online. It’s been going on for a while now, and it looked like a good one. I usually can’t see the buoys because my vision is kind of bad, but I really liked the setup out there. It was really nice to see, and the water was the perfect temperature.”
The Masters Swim is a community event that draws swimmers who visit the shore and who live here. Erik Truong and Brian McGroarty, both members of Mainland Regional High School’s state championship swim team, finished sixth and 11th overall with times of 21:21 and 21:56, respectively.
“It was warmer than I expected considering the storm last night, and it wasn’t as rough as I thought it would be,” Truong said. “This is my first time swimming the race, and I haven’t swam open water that much … so I had no idea how to go into the race, but I would definitely do it again next year.” McGroarty, an OCBP guard, was coming off a victory in the run/swim event at the Cape May County Lifeguard Championships July 7.
Ocean City Public Information Director Doug Bergen finished in a time of 24:32 with OCBP chief Mark Jamieson on his tail, finishing 11 seconds behind him with a time of 24:43.
Prizes were also awarded to the youngest and oldest finishers, Brian Scott, 9, of Atlantic City, and Bill Pugh, 80, of Ocean City, respectively.
*All photos were my own taken with my Canon EOS Rebel T1i