By BRIAN CUNNIFF
CAPE MAY POINT — Adrienne Bilello has spent at least parts of most of the summers of her life in Wildwood Crest. But due to high school swimming workouts, the now 19-year-old was never able to join the Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol until this summer.
The rookie lifeguard has made a rather strong mark on the lifeguard competition circuit.
Bilello beat a field of more than 40 other female lifeguards to win Monday’s Cape May Point Women’s Lifeguard Challenge, a 1.3-mile soft-sand run, 1-mile ocean paddle and half-mile ocean swim.
Bilello, a former Shawnee High School standout who now swims at Division I Iona University, completed the course in 27 minutes, 16 seconds. She came through the surf in second place after the paddle leg before bolting to the front during the swim and winning by nearly a full minute.
Wildwood’s Katie Collins, competing for the sixth time in the race, secured her fourth top-five finish by placing second. The 25-year-old former Temple University swimmer finished in 28:06.
Collins teamed with patrolmate Mary Kate Comas, who placed seventh in 29:13, to win the team championship for Wildwood.
Longport’s Taylor Phy was third in 28:17, Maggie Shaw of Harvey Cedars placed fourth in 28:35, Margot Labrecque of Sea Bright earned fifth place in 28:54 and Avalon’s Mckensie Meyer secured sixth in 29:05.
Rounding out the top 10, respectively, were Ocean City’s Samantha Brady in 29:18, North Wildwood’s Scarlett Loughlin in 29:21 and Emma Dries of Harvey Cedars in 29:37.