Ocean Swim Is Tight Race for Top Spot

But for Last Place, Not So Much
By DAVID BIGGY | Jul 31, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy FINALE: T.J. Yaglenski emerges from the Atlantic Ocean en route to victory in the Barnegat Light Ocean Mile Swim on July 27.

Barnegat Light — Noreen McManus almost didn’t compete in the Barnegat Light Ocean Mile Swim on July 27.

“I just signed up two days ago,” said the 67-year-old from Madison. “I had hurt my knee early last week, and I wasn’t sure I should do it. But a few days ago, I felt good enough to give it a try. I wanted to swim it with my brother Fred again. So here I am.”

Interestingly, McManus was so certain about where she would finish, she yelled out to her brother as she gingerly walked toward the finish line, trying not to aggravate a cramp in her leg.

“I told you I’d finish last again!” she exclaimed, crossing the line in 294th place with a time of 57 minutes, 55.27 seconds, officially some 13½ minutes behind Westwood’s Mike Bonanos.

“It took me awhile to get into a rhythm,” said McManus, who last year finished in last place about three minutes faster. “Instead of counting strokes, I kept reciting the names of all my siblings in my head. It’s great to be done with it.”

One individual who didn’t have too much difficulty getting into a rhythm was winner T.J. Yaglenski of Schwenksville, Pa., who barely outraced former Olympic triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker of Harvey Cedars and finished in 17:16.52, about eight seconds ahead of Shoemaker.

“I swam this race four years ago and finished 20th or something like that,” said the 18-year-old scheduled to start swimming for the University of Delaware in the fall. “I went out a little slower last time. But tonight, I went for it.”

About 100 yards from the final marker – before making the 90-degree turn west toward the beach at 16th Street – Yaglenski had lost a slight lead to Shoemaker, who had come up on his left. Once they turned, almost on top of each other, the race for the crashing surf was on. With 100 feet to go, the two were next to each other.

“Halfway in, I bumped into him,” Yaglenski said of Shoemaker. “We were stroke for stroke for a few seconds. At that point, it was just a matter of who would get a push from a wave.”

With only 20 yards to the beach, Yaglenski was the fortunate one. A wave delivered him a few yards ahead as Shoemaker got dragged into the surf as he tried to emerge from the Atlantic. Yaglenski ran to the finish line while Shoemaker finally got to his feet to complete the run up the beach.

Representing Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol, which easily finished as the top team, Shane Stauffer took third with a time of 17:40.56, followed by HCBP lifeguard Ryan Corcoran four seconds later (17:44.57), and HCBP veteran Brady Stauffer, who crossed the line in 17:47.94. Barnegat Light’s Garrett Powell was sixth (17:53.61), with Barnegat Light’s Zak Westerberg not far behind in seventh (18:00.97), and Brien Yaglenski in eighth (18:04.75). Barnegat Light’s Mike Voss was ninth in 18:07.68.

Also representing the Cedars beach patrol, and winning the women’s division for a third straight year, was Maggie Shaw, finishing 10th overall with a time of 18:21.65. To maintain her place at the top of the women’s field, she first had to overcome a delayed start of three minutes – the women had their own heat for the first time in the race’s history – and then navigate her way through many of the men.

“Starting later than the guys, it was a bit tough trying to get through them,” she said. “In past years, I was able to chase the lead guys. This time, I had to change my pacing a little because there was nobody around me I could swim with. I had to be more focused on how I was feeling about my pace, but it worked out.”

Shaw, who spends most of her week working in the computer science department for the University of Pennsylvania’s genetics research laboratory, works the lifeguard stand in Harvey Cedars on weekends. She trains regularly with a club team in Philadelphia. She needed every bit of that training to outrace Alicia Kaye, Shoemaker’s wife, who finished just over eight seconds behind Shaw in 18:29.96. Ship Bottom Beach Patrol’s Tracey Hemmerle was third (19:05.36), and HCBP guard Jenna Parker was fourth in 19:14.97. Surf City lifeguard Pepper Kolman (19:24.45) was fifth among the women.

As is the case every year, the Ocean Mile Swim had plenty of first-timers amid the 294-swimmer field. Among that crowd were Rob and Kerry Morrison of Hoboken, taking on the challenge together.

“I used to be a pool lifeguard in Maplewood years ago and I competed in some triathlons until 2006, but I’ve never done an open-water swim in the ocean,” said Kerry, the second-to-last female across the line, finishing 288th overall at 40:58.84. “This was really challenging. But I got through it, and I’m already looking forward to doing it next year.”

Rob, who registered to compete in the event last summer but then decided he was not ready to swim a mile in the ocean and bailed out right before the race start, this time finished 6½ minutes ahead of his wife.

“This definitely is not a joke,” he said. “It was tough getting out there with the strong current and the chop, but once I got to the first buoy I got into a good rhythm. But still, this was tough. Next time, we’ll train better.”

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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