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Gambescia: Like a Fish in Water

October 1, 2012

Dr. Steve GambesciaWhether you’ve noticed the movie poster for Chariots of Fire in his office or you’ve seen him going on a run toward the Delaware River after work, you might already know that Steve Gambescia, PhD, has a pretty serious passion for running. His athletic career began at St. Joseph’s University, where he completed his undergraduate degree, ran at the collegiate level for the school’s Division 1 Cross Country team, and set a school-wide record for having run a total of 10,000 meters by the time he graduated. Gambescia then went on to run long distance competitively for Converse, an American company that specializes in athletic shoes and apparel.

Today, Gambescia continues to enjoy running as a personal hobby, but has additionally developed some new exercise interests. Now he completes open water distance swimming, specifically in different bays and lakes in the region. Gambescia and his family often spend their summers in Seaside Park, New Jersey, where he enjoys 2-3 mile swims along the Atlantic Coast. A few weeks ago, as the summer season was coming to an end, Gambescia encountered a situation when his open water swimming skills would be put to the test.

As Gambescia and his brother were admiring the ocean one day, he noticed what appeared to be a small child struggling in the water. Within seconds, Gambescia recognized that the boy was stuck in a rip tide and would need immediate assistance. Wasting no time, Gambescia dove in the water to grab the child. Using his riptide knowledge, he was able to successfully get the child out of the water to safety. Gambescia also had to help the child’s father, who got stuck in the riptide while trying to assist in the rescue.

“When stuck in a rip tide, people often fight to get back on to shore, which is exactly what you shouldn’t do. You can’t propel yourself in the middle of one, so you have to ride it out and come up for air when you can,” said Gambescia. Later on that same day, he also helped a teenage girl who got stuck in a similar riptide. Gambescia’s love for open water swimming turned into more than a hobby that summer day; it saved lives!