1999 in Review:

July 8th

NWBP's Iepson promoted to Captain

By Brian Cunniff
Staff Writer
For The Wildwood Leader

NORTH WILDWOOD - The North Wildwood Beach Patrol has a new captain. Filling the position that had been vacant since 1995 after the retirement of Tom Palmer, beach patrol chief Tony Cavalier has promoted Charlie Iepson into Palmer's former post.

Iepson, 46, has been a member of the North Wildwood Beach Patrol for 25 years, the last five as lieutenant. He also serves as the beach patrol's race director for the Beschen-Callahan Memorial Races and the Around the Island Row.

Iepson hails from Stratford and is a teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden. "Charlie is a very organized person and because of the many new regulations we have through the state and the city, there's a lot of paperwork involved and he'll continue to be a valuable help to the patrol" Cavalier said. "And his years of teaching experience helps the patrol because he's very good at instructing the lifeguards in our different techniques."


July 10th

N.Wildwood surf dashes to Cape Title

Lifeguards: North Wildwood successfully defends its title at the Cape May County Championships with a victory in the final event.

For The Press, (609) 272-7210

WILDWOOD CREST - The surf dash is the fun relay race at the end of lifeguard events, a sprint from the wet sand into the ocean and back. The race only takes about four minutes so nobody suffers very much, and even the losers seem to have a good time.

But the surf dash was serious stuff at Friday's Cape May County Lifeguard Championships. because it determined the team title.

Defending champion North Wildwood Beach Patrol entered the final race tied with host Wildwood Crest at 19 points, and the teams have a good tradition in the surf dash.

North Wildwood took some of the fun out of it by leading the relay wire to wire. Steve DelMonte got the patrol a 10-yard lead; Brendan Gibson held the margin, Lew Ostrander increased the lead a few yards more, and anchorman Jake Dickson waltzed to the finish line.

"I just do my best, I look at the flag and explode" Del Monte said, "I couldn't see anyone else near me, just my teammates. It wasn't me, it was all of us. That's the best part about the beach patrol, we're a team. Everyone picks each other up".

North Wildwood won three of the six races and won the team championship with 25 points. The Crest was a distant seventh in the surf dash but held onto second with 19 points.

"It's just a tradition at North Wildwood to have very fast guys,! North Wildwood Beach Chief Tony Cavalier said, "We've had great surf-dash teams since 1969 when we started the Beschen-Callahan's (North Wildwood's home lifeguard event)."

Nick Macko, an 18-year-old North Wildwood rookie lifeguard from Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia, seemed a bit bewildered as the fans mobbed him after, his win in the run/swim. It was his first out-of town race, so perhaps he didn't quite know what all the excitement was about, but he loved every minute of it.

Stone Harbor's Rob Lythgoe had a good lead after the run, but Macko, who will swim for The College of New Jersey, overtook him in the water.

"I was third after the run, and caught him at the (halfway) flag (in the ocean). The whole atmosphere here is great I was surprised that they were so excited."

I Bill Auty was thinking more about his grandmother Friday, but he won the box-swim by about 70 yards over Cape May's Geoff Rife.

"This win is dedicated to my grandmom, Betty Jaisle," Auty, now a four-time winner of the race, said. "'She had surgery to day. It kind of helps you to keep it in perspective. My mind was on her today, not this. This is just a lifeguard race. She had surgery this morning, and she's doing fine."

Max Bilkins and Bick Murphy, the oldest crew in the South Jersey Lifeguard Association, served notice that they're still in their prime. Bilkins and Murphy took the doubles row with a clear four-boat victory. "All the (other) boats were off the (halfway) flag (on the way out)," sternman, Murphy said. "Cape May and North Wildwood were ahead of us in the boat, but off the flag. ."We were on course and got ahead at the flag, and we poured it on from there."

Has Tom Swift re-invented himself? Not really, but the fans were shocked to see the six-time South Jersey Lifeguard swimming champion win the rescue board race. Swift, now an Ocean City guard, immediately jumped back in the water and got fourth in the box-swim. "I saw the paddleboard used as a lifeguard device for the first time four years ago when I guarded in Florida," Swift said. "I've been getting better at it ever since." After a good start, Avalon star Craig Whitehead took command and won the singles race. Whitehead was a three-time South Jersey and Cape May County champion with partner Mike Cras a few years ago, but Friday was his first County singles win.


Team Scoring:

1. North Wildwood 25; 2. Wildwood Crest 19; 3. Cape May 16; 4.Ocean City 14; 5. Stone Harbor 10; 6. Avalon 9; 7. Wildwood 2; 8. Sea Isle City 1; Upper Township and Cape May Point did not score.


July 16th

The North Wildwood Beach Patrol edges Wildwood Crest by one point to win its sixth straight Beschen-Callahan Memorial Lifeguard Races title outright.

For The Press, (609) 272-7210

NORTH WILDWOOD - Winning the Beschen-Callahan Memorial Lifeguard Races is getting to be sort of routine for the North Wildwood Beach Patrol, but Friday the perennial champions barely beat Wildwood Crest.

When the results of all seven races were tabulated, North Wildwood had won its sixth straight outright Beschen-Callahan team title (1993 was a tie with Cape May), but only by one point over the Crest.

North Wildwood got victories by Kevin Gross and Romolo Forcino in the singles row and a win in the surf dash, and finished with 24 team points. Wildwood Crest had 23, thanks mostly to wins by Erik Blaker in the rescue board race, Ron Ayres in the singles row and a team victory in the box-swim.

"I just want to say one thing" North Wildwood Beach Chief Tony Cavalier said. "As long as I've been with the North Wildwood patrol, this was the most exciting Beschen-Callahan's that I've ever seen. I'm very proud of the North Wildwood Beach Patrol."

The home team actually clinched the team title in the last race, the can run, with an unspectacular second-place finish by substitute Jake Dickson. Cape May's Ed Zebrowski, a 17-year Wildwood Catholic High School senior, actually won the race over Dickson with a dive over the finish line. But Dickson earned three points for second place and Blaker got only one for
Crest by getting third place. The can run is a one-man surf dash where the guards leap off of  lifeguard stands and run, simulating a rescue.

The doubles row had an exciting finish in the surf, and Gross and Forcino caught a wave that put them in the lead over Max Bilkins and Bick Murphy of Wildwood Crest with a few yards to go. With his boat closer to shore, bowman Gross leaped out the boat before Murphy and ran to the finish line on the beach.

"We had a good turn (at the halfway flag) but they were close on the way in," Gross said. "It seemed like we were back-and forth with them. As soon as the boat started to turn sideways and lose speed (in the surf at the end) I knew it was time to get out of the boat."

North Wildwood upheld its tradition in the surf dash as substitute leadoff-man Jerry Haines got the lead right away. Dickson, Lew Ostrander and Steve DelMonte kept Wildwood Crest from getting too close.

The Beschen-Callahan Memorials have no MVP award but a mythical one might go to Cape May's Geoff Rife. The 33-yearold, a Cape May Beach Patrol lieutenant, won the box-swim, and came back near the end of the meet to give his team the win in the four-man relay.

After the final run in the box-swim, Rife was the winner by 25 yards over Nick Macko of North Wildwood. Cape May County swim champion Bill Auty of the home team had just gotten second to Blaker in the rescue board race in the previous race, and he did well to get third. Wildwood Crest took the next four places to win the event, which was scored like cross country.

The four-man relay was a singles row, run, paddleboard and swim by four different guards. Rife did the swim for Cape May and was in third place when he took to the water. But while others were knocked off course, he swam a bee-line out and back and won the race for his team.

"It was a team thing," Rife ' the 1989 and 1991 Superathlon champion, said. "I had three other guys busting their gut before me, so I had to give it my best effort. I navigated well, but I was shocked to go from third to first."



1. North Wildwood 24; 2. Wildwood Crest 23; 3. Cape May 17; 4. Wildwood 5.


August 4th

John 'OBrien celebrates 36th year on North Wildwood, Beach Patrol

By MIKE POTTER Correspondent

NORTH WILDWOOD - If there are three professions that parents fear their childreiri ever trying to make a living from, they must be: artist, musician, and lifeguard. To attempt all three would might be considered ludicrous, foolish and down- rightinsane. But, meeting North Wildwood Beach Patrol's John: O'Brien -artist, musician, lifeguard - leaves you more with the impression.of a renaissance man rather than of a crazy man.

His 30 years of exemplary service to the beach patrol, as well as his accomplishments away from the beach, certainly seem to make Lieutenant O'Brien an obvious choice as Lifeguard of the Week by NWBP Chief Tony Cavalier.

O'Brien, 45, is the South Lieutenant for North Wildwood and has been working on the beach every summer since 1970, or as he puts it, "since before they invented sunscreen!" O'Brien was 16years old when he joined the NVVBP and spent his first 10 years sitting on the beach at 22nd Street before moving on to a truck, and ultimately being promoted to lieutenant.

Over his career, Lieutenant O'Brien has worked for three chiefs, seven captains and has seen hundreds of lifeguards come and go. "Lots of changes since I started" says O'Brien, "Lots of changes".

During the winter, O'Brien lives in Delran and is a very successful cartoonist and illustrator. He has written several children's books and has illustrated over 60 in all. O'Brien also draws cartoons and illustrations for magazines such as New Yorker and.has done editorial illustration for many major newspapers, including the New York Times.

As if his art weren't enough to keep him occupied, O'Brien also has a.passion for music and has been performing for years on both the guitar and banjo. When he's not on the beach or at his drawing table, O'Brien can be found performing on the evening dinner cruises on the Delta Lady and at various other venues during the summer.

'Even with all his other interests and obligations O'Brien always looks forward to lifeguarding. "I look forward to my time on the beach as recreation time" he says. "It's sort of a reward for hard work all winter."

O'Brien appreciates being singled out and recognized by Chief Cavalier, especially in this, his 30th year. As for his future on the beach, O'Brien says, "Somewhere down the line I'll wrap it up." Even after 30 years John O'Brien still enjoys being a lifeguard too much to even think about stopping.

Cavalier appreciates the time his devoted lieutenant has given the beach-patrol. ."John O'Brien has worked on the North Wildwood beach for 30 years, is a legend on our beach, is very professional and runs his section of the beach as tight as a ship", Cavalier said. "He's very well-respected among other beach patrols and after 30 years he deserves an honor like this, for all the years he's given the City of North Wildwood."


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