The inaugural La Jolla Cove Swim drew 483 swimmers into the water on Sunday, Sept. 8 for a mile-long lap to La Jolla Shores and back.
Five heats of swimmers, divided according to age, stroked through the 73-degree water toward Scripps Pier, hanging U-turns at yellow buoys. The overall winner was Jackson Etter, a 22-year-old senior at Arizona State University, who posted a time of 25 minutes, 42.73 seconds.
“It was a cool experience to have this opportunity,” said Etter, who lives in State College, Pennsylvania. “La Jolla’s beautiful, and to win the race is awesome.”
Bishop’s School graduate Tommy Anderson took fourth overall and second in Etter’s heat.
The La Jolla Rough Water Swim was one of the world’s most famous open-water swim races since 1916, and a defining La Jolla staple. But it was canceled in recent years — once due to construction of the Cove lifeguard tower and twice due to poor water quality.
La Jolla Parks & Beaches member Judy Adams Halter took it upon herself to revive the concept of an open-water swim and give it a new name and purpose.
“I’ve heard people talk about how they wanted the swim to come back because it was such a great event,” she previously told the Light.
Speaking at the Cove Swim, Windansea Surf Club president Bill Fitzmaurice — whose organization sponsored both swims — said: “Nothing’s ever going to replace the old Rough Water Swim, but things evolve. And I think Judy did a great job with an open heart and with some issues stacked up against her. In some respects, this is even better than it was because it’s more community service-minded.”
Halter told the Light that her event — which cost about $22,000 to stage — raised $33,000 from registration fees and $45,000 from sponsors, donations and a silent auction. She said she plans to donate $8,300 to the Prevent Drowning Foundation, fund four summer concerts for $20,000, and give $15,000 to beautify Scripps Park through the launch of Friends of La Jolla Cove/Scripps Park.