OCEANSIDE — A record number of competitors hit the water for the Labor Day Pier Swim on Sept. 6. The total number of swimmers is expected to top last year’s record, which was the highest to date.
More than 400 competitors pre-registered for the race. With pre-registration accounting for approximately half of the final number of participants, more than 800 are estimated to have participated this year.
Water conditions were chilly and calm for the hundreds of competitors who took part in the 1-mile open water swim around the Oceanside Pier. “Other than water temperature, conditions are pretty nice,” Bill Curtis, Oceanside lifeguard captain, said.
Competitors ranged in age from 11 to 75 and older. John Healy, 66, has been participating in the annual race for 31 years.
He swam his first race around the pier in 1979, the year the race celebrated its 50th anniversary. “I thought it was great that a race had been going on for 50 years,” Healy said. This year marks the 81st anniversary of the Labor Day Pier Swim.
Youth competitors turned out in big numbers.
North County Aquatics swim club raked in wins in youth division competitions taking first, second, and third in the 11- to 14-year-old 1-mile swim, and first place in the 15- to 18-year-old mile swim. While getting out past the waves and baring the chilly 60 degree water was a challenge, the pier swim proved to be a fun change of pace for North County Aquatics team members.
“We’re competing in the pool all the time,” Jason O’Brien of Del Mar said. “It’s more fun to do it (an open water swim) every once in awhile.”
Eleven-year-old Peytie Slater of Carlsbad was one of youngest to complete in the 1-mile swim. She swam the race and crossed the finish line with her dad, Evan Slater.
In addition to the 1-mile open water swim, a youth 250-yard swim for 8- to 10-year-olds, a half-mile swim for youth 10 years old and up, and paddleboard competitions were held.
The annual Labor Day Pier Swim is the sole fundraiser for the Oceanside Swim Club.
“This is where we raise our funds,” Larry Barr, club president, said.
The club of 5- to 18-year-old swimmers competes throughout the year in California swim meets and annually is the U.S. nationals. “How many kids have this opportunity?” Barr asked.
Funds raised help support pool fees, team member scholarships, and needed swim gear such as high performance swimsuits for team members who compete at the national level.
Manny Mendez, 12, swims for the Oceanside Swim Club and has set numerous records in state and national competitions. She is one of several team members who receives a club scholarship to help pay her team fees.
The Labor Day Pier Swim awarded first-, second- and third-prize to competitors in 17 different age and competition categories. Final race results can be seen at oceansideswimclub.com.