Bruckner Chase

Bruckner Chase, a lifeguard in Upper Township and an Ocean City resident, shoots a scene for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) “Wave Safe” film series.

OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City resident and Upper Township Beach Patrol member collaborated with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a film series on ocean safety.

Bruckner Chase grew up in Memphis, Tenn. He was rescued from drowning twice before the age of 10.

He believes those incidents made him more sensitive to respect the power of the ocean. 

“My earliest memories were dominated by a love of the ocean from summer vacations at the Florida shore tempered by a fear of the water," said Chase. "Having access to ocean information and role models over the years slowly created the potential for more positive experiences in the water that curbed my fears from childhood. 

"People now look at the marathon swims and extreme ocean events I have done and don’t realize how far I have come from the scared kid from Tennessee who did not want to go into the deep end,” Chase continued.

Chase said he can call virtually every ocean home with a special love for the Jersey Shore, where a chance surfing encounter in Monterey Bay introduced him to his wife and New Jersey native, Dr. Michelle Evans-Chase.

Both Chase and his wife have been in the county since 2006. While traveling the world to create initiatives like the “Toa o le Tai” (heroes of the sea in Samoan) youth program in American Samoa, they have also worked to connect their Cape May County and wider New Jersey communities to the oceans they share.

“We founded the Ocean City Swim Club in 2007 to provide safe opportunities for adult athletes to have guarded and coached ocean workouts throughout the summer," said Chase. "In 2012, we partnered with Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation to create the Blue Journey Unified program, which provides weekly open water paddling and pool swimming sessions for athletes with spinal cord injuries and disease.

"We live by the mantra that it’s not what we can do in the water that matters, it’s what we do with what we can do,” Chase said.

At the start of his marathon swimming career, Chase began working with NOAA National Marine Sanctuary program to share with others the importance of these special marine places.

Chase and his wife worked with NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) to help engage individuals and communities around the country, with issues of coastal safety, science, and conservation in line with the NWS’ “Weather Ready Nation” campaign. 

The highlight of their NWS collaboration is the recently released “Wave Safe” film series from NOAA’s National Ocean Service and NWS. The production of the series took Chase and a team of NOAA videographers on the road for a month to explore and document the hazards that exist on some of the nation’s favorite shorelines with the message of how to stay safe whenever on, in or near the water.

“I have been able to do some amazing things in the water and in communities around the world, but this Wave Safe initiative is perhaps one of the most inspiring projects I have ever been able to join," said Chase.

The focus the film follows is how to prevent ‘second-victim’ drownings.

"The expertise and capacity of NOAA and the people throughout the organization is unbelievable,” said Chase.

"The final Hawaii, Pacific Northwest, and California films will be released this month (June), and through our foundation, Ocean Positive, and collaborative efforts with multiple NOAA divisions, we can start sharing these films, messages, and actions to diverse communities around the country.

"As an ocean lifeguard, I see these steps as moving our mission of protecting our beaches upstream. If our beach visitors arrive a little ocean wiser and water smarter, they are going to have positive experiences on the shore, just like I did as a kid. One of my goals is to help keep our lifeguards in the stands knowing that everyone is safer,” Chase continued.

Learn more about Chase’s work with NOAA’s NWS by watching the “Wave Safe” collection at http://bit.ly/2X7IfED. Learn more about Chase and his wife, Michelle's, work in South Jersey and around the world through their Ocean Positive foundation at www.bcoceanpositive.org.

To contact Camille Sailer, email csailer@cmcherald.com.

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