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Longport lifeguard race includes surprise wedding proposal

Longport lifeguard race includes surprise wedding proposal


LONGPORT — The Longport Beach Patrol and its fans partied like it was 2019 at 33rd Avenue beach on Friday.

Longport easily won its home event, the 49th annual Captain Michael D. McGrath Longport Memorial Lifeguard Races, with exactly the same winning lineup as in 2019, the last time the event was held.

Longport’s Mike McGrath, the son of the late Michael D. McGrath, won the doubles row with partner Sean Duffey. Joey Tepper won the swim, and McGrath returned to win the singles row. Despite the fact that two years have passed and there were many new competitors, those same three athletes finished exactly the same way they did in 2019’s Longport win.

Longport lifeguard Joe Costa jumped in McGrath’s boat after the singles race and proposed to girlfriend Savannah Dreher as the crowd cheered and celebrated. She said yes.

Dozens of pictures were taken and Costa sprayed bottles of champagne.

Longport won the team title with 110 points. Margate, which finished second in two races and third in another, was second in team scoring with 69 points. Atlantic City had 44 points for third.

“It was a real good victory. We were strong in all facets of the event,” Longport Beach Patrol Chief Matt Kelm said. “It was nice to see a lot of new competitors.”

The 6-foot-5 Tepper was The Press Boys Swimmer of the Year as a senior at Egg Harbor Township High School in the winter of 2020. The season ended in early March, less than two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. He’s a rising sophomore swimmer at the University of Tennessee.

The event’s teams are the five Atlantic County beach patrols — Brigantine, Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport.

The event honors the late McGrath, a former Longport Beach Patrol Captain and longtime rowing champion who died of cancer in 2005.

The McGrath Longport Memorials has the classic South Jersey format of a doubles row, a swim and a singles row. But unlike other South Jersey events, the Longport Memorials allows three swimmers from each patrol to compete. The home patrol dominated that event, too, as Longport’s Megan Fox finished third and teammate Katie McClintock was fourth.

Longport has won the South Jersey Lifeguard Championships team title four times in a row, and indicated Friday it’s still highly competitive.

The South Jersey Lifeguard Chiefs Association has four all-female events, starting with the Longport Women’s Lifeguard Invitational at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at 33rd Avenue beach.

Contact Guy Gargan: 609-272-7210

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Staff Writer

I’ve been at The Press since January of 1983. I cover all sports in general, but mostly lifeguard racing, and high school field hockey, football, swimming, basketball, crew, baseball and softball.

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