(July 12, 2019) The 25th annual Capt. Robert S. Craig Boardwalk Swim will take place Saturday, July 13, at 6:30 p.m.

Craig led the Ocean City Beach Patrol from 1935-1986, the longest term for any captain. He was also the longest-serving member of the organization. The Boardwalk swim honors the late captain for his many years of service.

“Anyone can swim in this event,” Capt. Butch Arbin said. “[Even] for a person that doesn’t have a lot of experience in open water swimming, it’s great because we have a lot of safety out there.”

Craig first began working for the Ocean City Beach Patrol in the 1920s and was promoted to captain in 1935. When he was not serving Ocean City in the summer, Craig would return to his high school teaching job at Principia, a Christian science university, in St. Louis, Missouri.


Participants of the Capt. Craig swim line the beach in preparation last year.

One of the first procedures Capt. Craig changed was the training and recruiting process, requiring each person interested in becoming a member of the Ocean City Beach Patrol to fill out a written application and complete a physical assessment. 

He also introduced the semaphore flag system to the patrol, and it is still used for communication between guards to supplement radio contact.

This swim is also a fundraiser for the beach patrol’s annual awards banquet.

“It actually helps offset the cost of our end-of-the-year awards banquet which the guards typically pay for,” Arbin said. “By doing this we can then reduce the cost of the banquet so that more and more guards can attend and we buy things that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy for the patrol.

“We have a competition team that benefits from this … to send them to national and international competitions because they’re not compensated by the town,” he added.

Last year, around 100 people participated in the swim.

Participants are required to check-in on the day of the competition, pay the registration fee, and complete the proper paperwork before being permitted to compete.

Registration includes a T-shirt for all participants as well as certificates and medals for the top three finishers in each category. Registration on site begins at 5 p.m.

Competitors will swim a measured mile with the prevailing current to a finish line located at 14th Street and the beach.

There are categories set for the swim by age and gender. Youth category begins with 13 years old and under, Juniors 14-16, Seniors 30-39, Master 40-49, and Veterans 50 and over.

“A 12-year-old isn’t necessary competing against somebody that’s 20 years old,” Arbin said. “They can get registered by age and by gender. So there is a 12-year-old girl category and a 12-year-old boy category … they all swim together, but because of where they register, we sort them out. The 10th person who crosses the line might be the first-place finisher for girls 12 and under.”

The cost to participate is $30.

Swimmers will meet on Saturday at 14th Street. Competitors will be taken to North Division Street and walk out to the water’s edge and swim north to 14th Street.

If the current is going the other way, the tram will take the swimmers to the north end of the Boardwalk and participants will swim south to the 14th Street finish line. Competitors are expected to arrive no later than 6:30 p.m.

For more information about the swim, contact the beach patrol headquarters at 410-289-7556.

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