Photo Vault: 46th Annual Seal Beach Rough Water Swim

It was a perfect day for an open water race in Southern California on Saturday, when Seal Beach Swim Club hosted its 46th annual Rough Water Swim. Seal Beach Swim Club head coach Patti Haney explained, “This is our 46th Rough Water Swim. Traditionally the Seal Beach race marks the start of the summer, while the La Jolla Rough Water Swim (over Labor Day Weekend) marks the end.” Indeed, several hundred swimmers showed up at the Seal Beach Pier to compete in either the 3-mile race, the 1-mile race, or in one of the age-group contests. The largest turnout, of nearly 100 swimmers ranging from 12 to 82 years old, was for the 1-mile race.

The Seal Beach Rough Water is steeped in tradition. Announcer Scott Weir has been to every one of the 46 races. “He used to swim it, but now he’s been our announcer for the last 20 years,” explained Haney. The event was the brainchild of then-Seal Beach Swim Club head coach Ron Blackledge. Weir remembers, “he thought that, given our proximity to the beach, we needed to be better beach swimmers. So he brought the whole team down here for a race. Team parents Richard and Joanne Yeo ran the event for years. Club parents set buoys; everyone participated.”

In addition to the competitors, there was a large group watching the festivities, cheering from shore or from the pier itself. Among those on hand was Stacey Fresonke Juler, who participated in the very first Seal Beach Rough Water in 1968. In 1971, Juler (then Stacey Fresonke) became the youngest swimmer to successfully complete the Catalina Channel Swim, a 20-mile cold-water crossing that took her and her three companions (Lynne Cox, Andy Taylor, and Dennis Sullivan) 12 hours and 34 minutes. As Juler watched the racers from the beach, she remarked, “it’s really ideal weather for this race. It’s not ‘rough’ at all.”

Which was probably just fine for the participants.

Photo: Anne Lepesant

Photo: Anne Lepesant

Photo: Anne Lepesant

Photo: Anne Lepesant

Photo: Anne Lepesant

Photo: Anne Lepesant

Photo: Anne Lepesant

Photo: Anne Lepesant

Seal Beach 46th Rough Water Swim Seal Beach 46th Rough Water Swim Seal Beach 46th Rough Water Swim

Start of the 3-mile race. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of the 3-mile race. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of the 3-mile race. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of the 3-mile race. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of the 7-8 year old race. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of the 7-8 year old race. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of the 9-10 year old race. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of the 9-10 year old race. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of the 11-12 year old race. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of the 11-12 year old race. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Men's 3-mile winner. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Men’s 3-mile winner. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Women's 3-mile winner. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Women’s 3-mile winner. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of 1-mile swim. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of 1-mile swim. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Grant Shoults at start of 1-mile swim. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Grant Shoults at start of 1-mile swim. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of 1-mile swim. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Start of 1-mile swim. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Men's 1-mile winner. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Men’s 1-mile winner. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Women's 1-mile winner. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Women’s 1-mile winner. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Oldest competitor at 82! Photo: Anne Lepesant

Oldest competitor at 82! Photo: Anne Lepesant

Another seasoned competitor. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Another seasoned competitor. Photo: Anne Lepesant

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About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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