Longport Lifeguards are a Safe Bet in AC Competition

Red Bull Surf + Rescue event takes place on July 17 in Atlantic City, and will test the mettle of area lifeguards.

Two-time Red Bull Surf + Rescue winners, from left, Tim Schwegman, Taylor Phy, John Tepper and Max Mittelman.
Two-time Red Bull Surf + Rescue winners, from left, Tim Schwegman, Taylor Phy, John Tepper and Max Mittelman.
Photo courtesy of Greg Mionske/Red Bull

Max Mittelman’s team is poised and ready. The crew from Longport Beach Patrol at the southern tip of Absecon Island is going for a three-peat at this year’s Red Bull Surf + Rescue event July 17 in Atlantic City.

The three-man, one-woman squad of Mittelman, John Tepper, Tim Schwegman and Taylor Phy won the event in 2016 and 2017. This year, the format has changed, but Mittelman isn’t worried.

“Our team is able to adapt and do anything,” he says. “We don’t have a weak link.”

While New Jersey beach patrols excel in rowing events—using primarily Van Duyne surf boats made in Linwood—most out-of-state beach patrols don’t use boats for rescues. To level the playing field for the Maryland, New York and Virginia teams, Red Bull has eliminated rowing from the 2018 event.

Mittelman, 27, ran track at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and is the team’s paddleboard specialist. Phy rows crew at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Tepper was an All-American swimmer at Rowan University. And Schwegman is an Atlantic City fireman who trains year-round. All four compete regularly in South Jersey Lifeguard Chiefs Association events.

Red Bull Surf + Rescue comprises four rounds, beginning with 50 teams competing in a swim relay. Second is a paddleboard relay, after which 34 teams will be eliminated. The final 16 teams will participate in a run-run-swim-paddleboard relay. In the championship round, the eight remaining teams will compete in a double-rescue event featuring a paddleboard pickup and a swimming rescue. The competition starts at 5:30 pm at Bungalow Beach (between California and Texas avenues). Spectators can view the action from the Boardwalk or the beach.

Mittelman calls the competition “a triathlon musical chairs” but thinks having a good paddleboard crew will be key in the final event. He is especially wary of South Jersey powerhouses Brigantine, Ocean City and Ventnor, but is confident in his team strategy.

“We have success by making sure we do well enough to advance in each round,” Mittelman says. “Then we are prepared to win the final.”

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