SIX MILES OF OCEAN
Late Sunday morning a playful sea lion waltzed into the middle of Santa Barbara’s 6-Mile Ocean Swim, curious as to why so many humans were in the water so far from shore.
Well, you see, little sea lion, more than 60 swimmers were participating in the race this year, making the oceanic trek from Goleta Beach Park to Hendry’s Beach.
This year’s winner was Taylor Steffen, a Goleta native who is home for the summer from Concordia University in Irvine. Mr. Steffen completed the race in less than 2 hours and 15 minutes, faster than the second place winner by more than five minutes.
Immediately after he crossed the finish line he was asked “How are you feeling?” Mr. Steffen chuckled and replied with a smile, “I’m tired!”
The biggest challenge for the 20-year-old swimmer (who competes on his university swim team) was the last two miles of the race.
“After about four miles, my arms started to get a little bit tired,” Mr. Steffen said. “So, just pushing through that.”
Karen Schultz, who finished third behind Mr. Steffen by about six minutes, echoed Mr. Steffen’s statement. For her, the last two miles were the most difficult.
“Wouldn’t know how close the finish was,” said Ms. Schultz. “Just kind of hoping for the end.”
And what an end Ms. Schultz delivered. As the first woman swimmer to finish Sunday’s race, she was less than 20 seconds behind second place, which was seized by Redwood City-native Moby Coquillard. A lot of experience is behind this third place spot.
“This is my third time doing this race,” said Ms. Schultz. “I’ve also done 10 miles and 11 miles.”
About five minutes after Ms. Schultz landed on shore, 14-year-old John Bish followed suit. As the youngest participant in this year’s race, John ran into the arms of his grandmother, Francis Paul.
“I got my wet hug!” Ms. Paul told the News-Press with a laugh.
For John, the hardest part was not the last part of the race.
“The most difficult part was getting around all the seaweed,” he said.
Despite the temperature and the seaweed, the 14-year-old is keen to do it again.
“It was a nice, long, peaceful swim,” John said.
John, who plays on the water polo team at Dos Pueblos High School, is already setting his sights on next year’s 6-mile race.
The 6-Mile Ocean Swim is part of the Semana Nautica Festival being held in Santa Barbara. Sunday’s events included the ocean swim, a swim meet at Los Banos del Mar Pool and the 83rd Santa Barbara Tennis Open.
The festival’s final event takes place Thursday with the Reef and Run Summer Series at East Beach.