Thousands compete in Rough Water Swim’s silver anniversary


On the 75th anniversary of La Jolla’s high-profile Rough Water Swim held Sunday, Sept. 11, 35-year-old Alex Kostich claimed the competition’s top prize for the fifth time in the three-mile Gatorman race from the Cove to Scripps Pier and back in a time of 57 minutes, 51 seconds.

The women’s Gatorman race was won by 16-year-old Ellie Doran, a Tucson native who defended her crown, coming in with a time of 1 hour, 3 minutes and 41 seconds, nearly five minutes faster than second-place finisher Stephanie Miller, 22, of San Jose.

The event was well attended by about 800 spectators who turned out to watch more than 2,100 swimmers competing at all age levels.

Bill Uncapher, co-chair of the event along with Barbara Baisch of La Jolla Rough Water Swim, said it was one of the best Rough Water swims ever.

“The water temperature was 69 degrees,” he said. “The wind chop in the afternoon was minimal. Attendance was huge, partially due to its being the 75th annual event.”

The majority of Rough Water swimmers were from outside of San Diego.

“The event has had national recognition for the last 20 years,” said Uncapher. “Recently, we’ve had national champions from Japan. This year, we had large groups of swimmers from Tucson, Colorado and Texas.”

La Jolla merchants are fond of the contest, because the large number of participants and spectators from elsewhere frequently stay for the weekend.

“That’s why the event is so popular with hotel people and merchants,” said Uncapher, adding it’s not convenient for spectators and competitors to just come in the day of the event.

Complete results at