(July 13, 2018) The 24th annual Capt. Robert S. Craig Boardwalk Swim will take place Saturday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m.
Craig led the Ocean City Beach Patrol from 1935-1986 – the longest term for any captain as well as the longest-serving member of the organization. The Boardwalk swim honors the late captain for his many years of service.
“He helped create the patrol as it is,” Capt. Butch Arbin said. “He created the way the patrol uses discipline. He was instrumental in creating the original testing that we did for a person to get on the patrol. He really had a lot to do with the foundation of the patrol that we still have today.”
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.
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.
Competitors will swim a measured mile with the prevailing current to a finish line located at 14th Street and the beach.
Last year, 63 men and 42 women participated in the swim.
“We invite the Craig family to attend and give them official seating up in the bandstand,” said Kristin Joson, Ocean City Beach Patrol public education coordinator. “We are not including the Ginny Craig quarter-mile swim [this year]. We have seen declining registration for the quarter-mile swim so we are concentrating our efforts on the one-mile event.”
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.
“Any age can swim the event, but if you are a 52-year-old female, you’re only swimming against other 52-year-old females,” Capt. Arbin said. “You might be the 20th person to cross the line, but you might be the first 52-year-old female to cross the line.”
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 Boardwalk 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.
“This is a very popular ocean swim due to the safety provided by the [surf rescue technicians] in the water near the swimmers,” Joson said. “Also, the one-mile distance is a good ‘entry’ level event for those just starting ocean swimming or training for a portion of a triathlon.”
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.
For more information about the swim, contact the beach patrol headquarters at 410-289-7556.