OFF TO THE RACES
“So long suckers!” laughed John Abrami as the second heat of the Semana Nautica Three-Mile Ocean Swim sprinted into East Beach on Sunday morning.
The veteran United States Masters Swimming open water coach and race director said the three-mile course takes the swimmers in a “T” shape that stretches from the far end of East Beach to Stearns Wharf and back to the beach.
One of the youngest swimmers, 14-year-old John Bish, finished in the top ten of the 77-swimmer field at one hour and eight minutes.
His competitor, Arjun McAvoy, praised the prep standout’s performance and credited him for towing or breaking the surf for a cluster of swimmers at the end of the race.
“The three of us were like all together the whole way … Johnny did the bulk of the work. He towed us the whole way. It’s kind of like bicycle racing where you draft off people. Johnny Bish and I, kind of traded places a couple times, but probably the last third he pulled the three of us all the way to the end and we just turned it on right at the buoy there,” said Mr. McAvoy.
John said that breaking the water at the end of the three-mile haul hurt his final sprint to the finish.
“Most of the time it was more of me and a guy in a white cap, this guy in a red cap would switch who he was drafting behind. I never really draft anyone, and I ended up losing in the end because I was so exhausted,” said John.
“The last leg was also the hardest because I got a side cramp.”
John is a sprinter for the Santa Barbara 805 water polo club and until recently was a competitive swimmer. Now he trains for open water swimming events with the Santa Barbara Junior Lifeguards.
John said the three-mile swim counts for the 2019 Swimmer of the Year points series. He will be competing in the Semana Nautica six-mile ocean swim at Goleta Beach next Sunday.
Alex Kostich, 49, of Los Angeles took first place with a time of 1 hour, 1 minute and 33 seconds His time beat out last year’s 1:04:17 winning time set by Santa Barbara High School’s Miles Gaitan.
“On the first mile my goggle strap kept falling off, it was loose. So, I kept having to stop and readjust. That happens sometimes. It was also because we were stimming against the current, so the waves were hitting my face,” said Mr. Kostich through labored breaths.
“I haven’t done this race in about 10 years, but I used to come and do it all the time. I live in Los Angeles and I love the Semana Nautica, it’s an excuse to come up to Santa Barbara and enjoy the beach and the nice weather and July Fourth.”
Cal State Bakersfield swimmer Benji Dueñas finished second and Mallory Mead was the first female swimmer to finish.