Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

In 1993, 25-year-old professional marathon swimmer Sergio Chiarandini and 36-year-old Stanford graduate and civil engineer Rick Heltzel from Honolulu swam shoulder-to-shoulder for much of the 7 km Hawaiian Christmas Looong Distance Invitational Rough-H2O Swim along Waikiki Beach.

Eventually, Chiarandini ran up the soft sand at Sans Souci Beach under the Diamond Head volcano on Oahu to beat Heltzel 1:30:03 to 1:30:09.

While the Oahu resident did not win the 1993 race, Heltzel did win 12 other editions of the truly rough water event; locally called the Double Roughwater because it covers much of the course of the iconic Waikiki Roughwater Swim.

Race director Jim Anderson explains the course, “The race starts on the beach in front of the New Otani (Kaimana Beach) Hotel and goes out the Outrigger Canoe Club Channel to a buoy, around the outer Ala Wai Harbor channel buoy, back to the first buoy and the starting point. The finish line is a short distance up the beach from the water’s edge. Swimmers must past the first buoy on the seaward side going and coming back. Other than the turns, the course are not marked.”

Over the last 29 years, no one has swum the course more than Heltzel; and there is no end in sight for the reliably consistent ocean swimmer.

Rick Heltzel Results from 1983 to 2017:
1983: 4th overall at the age of 26 in 1:36:24
1984: 2nd overall at the age of 27 in 1:32:30
1985: 1st overall at the age of 28 in 1:35:11
1987: 1st overall at the age of 30 in 1:39:00
1988: 2nd overall at the age of 31 in 1:45:44
1989: 1st overall at the age of 32 in 1:26:55
1990: 5th overall at the age of 33 in 1:32:54
1991: 1st overall at the age of 34 in 2:07:44 [USA Swimming National 10 km Championship]
1992: 3rd overall at the age of 35 in 2:09:21 [USA Swimming National 10 km Championship]
1993: 2nd overall at the age of 36 in 1:30:09
1994: 3rd overall at the age of 37 in 1:35:13
1995: 2nd overall at the age of 38 in 1:37:46
1996: 3rd overall at the age of 39 in 1:54:39
1997: 1st overall at the age of 40 in 1:38:06
1998: 2nd overall at the age of 41 in 1:42:02
2000: 2nd overall at the age of 43 in 1:40:05
2001: 2nd overall at the age of 44 in 1:48:41
2002: 1st overall at the age of 45 in 1:37:36
2003: 1st overall at the age of 46 in 1:38:35
2004: 1st overall at the age of 47 in 1:37:42
2005: 1st overall at the age of 48 in 1:43:12
2007: event cancelled
2008: 1st overall at the age of 51 in 1:36:58
2009: 1st overall at the age of 52 in 1:37:36
2011: 1st overall at the age of 54 in 1:45:48
2012: 3rd overall at the age of 55 in 1:40:42 [see pre-race photo above]
2013: 2nd overall at the age of 56 in 1:41:40 [see pre-race and finish photos above]
2014: 3rd overall at the age of 57 in 1:39:29 [see finish photo below]
2015: event cancelled
2016: 5th overall at the age of 59 in 1:54:47
2017: 3rd overall at the age of 60 in 1:36.30

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