Ocean Mile Swim No Problem for First-Timer to Long Beach Island

Aug 01, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Imagine waking up one day and deciding you’re going to go someplace where you can race in the ocean against other swimmers – for a mile. Well, some probably did that on July 28, but they didn’t do what Daniel Galarza did in the Barnegat Light Ocean Mile Swim. He won the darned thing. Oh, and there’s a really good kicker to this story.

“This is my first ocean swim,” said the 20-year-old, from Edison. “This summer, I wanted to do an ocean swim – a good race with a lot of competition. I was on a website this morning and found out about this race. I was debating whether I should do it, but I checked the results from last year and saw it had a lot of good competition.”

And apparently, his GPS worked well.

“I didn’t know where LBI was,” he said. “This is my first time here. I asked my mom and sister to come down here with me, but I thought it was closer to Edison. We almost didn’t make it here on time because of the traffic.”

Of course, once Galarza made it to the Island and worked his way northward to Barnegat Light, getting into the Atlantic and creaming the rest of the field seemed fairly easy for the J.P. Morgan Chase intern and Pace University distance swimmer. With the current not a favorable one for swimmers, Galarza cruised through the south-to-north course from 30th to 16th Street and crossed the finish line in 19:30.30.

For his first competitive ocean mile, he finished 20 seconds and change ahead of 17-year-old Lenny Brown, 23.5 seconds ahead of Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol’s Ryan Corcoran, and 35 seconds in front of Barnegat Light Beach Patrol’s Mike Smith.

“It was a little harder to get started because the waves are rough,” Galarza said. “But once I got vertical, I got into a nice rhythm. I had a long stroke and just kept my speed up. I didn’t expect to win. I’m really surprised.”

Somebody who wasn’t surprised by the water conditions or the competition within the race was women’s winner Maggie Shaw, the premier female swimmer for the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol and defending women’s champ. She finished fifth overall in 20:07.40, coming in right behind Smith, as she did last year.

“The current was moving a good amount,” said Shaw, now two years removed from swimming in college but still one of the better swimmers among the Island guards. “I don’t have any pool time these days, so it’s hard to figure where I stand. But as I was going, I looked around a bit and realized there weren’t many people around me, so it seemed like I was doing well.”

Very well, in fact. Shaw finished significantly ahead of HCBP teammate Shane Stauffer, who placed sixth overall in 20:23.58, about five seconds ahead of BLBP’s Zak Westerberg (20:28.78) in seventh. Ava Enriquez, a 17-year-old from Reading, Pa., and also part of the Cedars’ team, took the eighth spot in 20:39.29, followed by Garwood’s Jeff Jotz (20:41.90) in ninth, and HCBP’s Brady Stauffer in 10th with a time of 20:52.85.

And even though Shaw didn’t catch Corcoran – the two have a bit of an in-house rivalry – the Harvey Cedars crew managed to grab the top spot as a team.

“We’re all competitive, but we have fun,” Corcoran said. “We try to get the whole patrol involved, more for the community aspect of it and (to) get the younger guards some experience with racing in the ocean. It’s a great event, and we enjoy it.”

One individual who may not have enjoyed the ocean mile as much as some of the top finishers was Noreen McManus, who brought up the rear of the 292-swimmer field but finished in 52:33.21 – the fastest time, thus far, of any last-place finisher in the race’s 10-year history.

“This was for my brother, Bill,” said the 66-year-old from Madison, who completed the course for a fourth straight year. “It was a rough race. I couldn’t get a good rhythm and it was a struggle, especially toward the end there. And then I got closer to the beach and I was cramping up, so I needed a purpose. My brother has early Alzheimer’s, so I just kept telling myself I was doing this for Bill. I’m not a quitter. I was going to get to the finish.”

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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