No rough waters for first La Jolla Cove Swim: 483 participants compete in 1-mile contest

Swimmers in the first (youngest) heat hit the water in the La Jolla Cove Swim, 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 8.

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.”

Jackson Etter, a 22-year-old senior at Arizona State University, finishes with the top time: 25 minutes, 42.73 seconds.

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.