La Jolla’s Tour of the Buoys swim coming up

The La Jolla Cove Swim Club’s Tour of Buoys is right around the corner and this year’s event on Aug. 1 will again feature two different events to challenge open-water swimmers.

The first event is a 5-mile swim, which requires each swimmer to provide a paddleboard or kayak escort. There will be a four-hour time limit for that event, which begins at 8:15 a.m. Swimmers will start at the La Jolla Shores Beach boat launch and follow the perimeter of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve.

The second swim, a 1.5-mile race, will take swimmers from the same area, around two buoys and then back to the boat launch.

The event, which began just a long-distance swim 12 years ago, has had a steady transition to its current format.

“It started out as a 6-mile event, then we hosted a couple of USMS (United States Masters Swimmers) championships and in the last three years, we have been doing a course that is a 5-mile course,” said Paula Selby, the race director for the past five years. “And in addition to the 5-mile event, we added a 1.5-mile event and the purpose for that was to encourage more participation.

“We created the event (5-mile) and we like to maintain it because it’s one of the few that has a longer distance in it,” Selby added. “There aren’t a lot of long-distance races anymore up and down the coast.”

Both races are limited to members of the La Jolla Cove Swim Club (who are at least 16 years old), however, nonmembers who want to participate can purchase a membership for $10, which is valid for the rest of the year.

“We wanted to encourage a lot of our club members too (with the shorter distance swim),” Selby said. “Since we did that, we have experienced steady growth. Last year was our largest years ever; we had about 216 participants. We have a lot of people that come to us every year, especially from out of state.

Safety is always a top priority for the event, which along with individual escort paddler, includes safety kayakers with radios positioned along the course.

As for awards, medals will be given to the first three swimmers in each USMS age/gender group for the regulation divisions (no wet suits, no fins).

Last year’s top male swimmer was Todd Robinson of La Jolla, who completed the swim in 1 hour, 43 minutes and 48 seconds. In 2009, he set a men’s Catalina Channel crossing record.

The top female swimmer wasn’t far off the top time as Karen Schmidt of Solana Beach finished in 1:44:02. Both Robinson and Schmidt compete in the 40-44-year-old age division.

Friday is the first deadline, which is $30 for the 1.5-mile swim and $40 for the 5-mile. After that, the rates increase for the top-notch event.

“I think, quite frankly, I feel that in La Jolla Bay, we have one of the best venues for an open-water swim,” Selby added.

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