OCEANSIDE — Close to 500 competitors, from ages 15 to 82, jumped in the 67 degree ocean Sept. 7 for the annual Labor Day Pier Swim race that arcs one mile around the Oceanside Pier. The race starts were staggered in three heats beginning at 8:30 a.m.
The event provides the unique challenge of swimming through surf, wind and waves. “It’s popular with everybody,” Paul Ring, event organizer and youth coach of the Oceanside Swim Club, said. “Lots of people come back year after year.”
Most competitors take on the one-mile ocean swim as a personal challenge.
“I had to do it at least once,” Ranford Sapp, 76, of Rancho Bernardo, said. It was rougher and colder than I expected. I’ve participated in the La Jolla Rough Water Swim for the last three years and this is a lot harder.”
“I was doing it for fun, but the competitive side of me always wants to race,” Beth Knight of Encinitas, a United States Master Swimming Championship titlist, said. Knight set out wanting to “keep up with the boys” and finished first in the heat coming in at 19 minutes and 40 seconds.
“I just do it to do it,” Tom Clardy of Encinitas said. Clardy is a paraplegic and former Navy Seal. He said he hopes he can be an inspiration to others by getting out there. Clardy, who has shoulder problems and no use of his legs, straps a fin on his one paralyzed leg and swims in a dolphin motion. This year he made it around the end of the pier before he cramped up and had to be helped to the finish line. Clardy said he will be back again next year.
For race results and finish times, visit www.oceanside swimclub.com.
See video from the event at www.coastnewsgroup.com.