Photos courtesy of Sean Vo in Huntington Beach, California.

Say you are a kid comfortable in the water, either in the pool or open water.

Then the annual Huntington Beach Pier Swim is a great introductory ocean swim for you. It presents challenges, but is generally over in 15 minutes for most swimming teenagers.

Not only do you swim around the longest concrete pier on the West Coast of America, but you also can face huge surf, both going out and coming back in and the adrenalin rush to an onshore start and finish.

Anticipating the starting horn, dashing into the Pacific Ocean from the onshore start, dolphining through the shallows, diving under the crashing waves, sprinting out past the pylons, rounding the end of the pier, railroading through the incoming swells, and bodysurfing into shore calls upon various skills needed by ocean swimmers.

The swim around the pier attracts up to 300 people; about half are local and half come from all over the place,” said race director John Valinsky. “Sometimes, it is cancelled because of the big waves. Gene Belshe started it as a kid’s race 64 years ago and now we have 16 age divisions as the race has grown. But there are strong currents that run across the course, so even when the race is not cancelled by big waves, we still have to [help] save up to 50 people in a race as they get pulled through the pier.

We are now offering the Legends Division, a new division for those swimmers over 65 years old. There are more swimmers of this age nowadays.”

Swim Long Beach, led by frequent winner Hank Wise, won the Gene Belshe Memorial Perpetual Trophy as the high-scoring team. Wise, an experienced surfer and former swimmer at Stanford University known as Dolphin Boy, said, “A lucky wave coming into shore is what a dolphin boy dreams about.”

Age Group Division Results:
1. Nick Devito 9:28
2. Kazu Miyahara 9:37
3. Nick Sullivan 9:47
4. Wade Nelson 9:49
5. Calvin Rogers 9:50
6. Lynn Rogers 9:50
7. Danny Giometti 10:10
8. Danielk Roa 10:22
9. Josh Adams 10:22
10. Kyle Reilly 10:36
11. Mora Deleske 10:36
12. Skyler Munatones 10:43

Masters Division Top Finishers:
1. Hank Wise 9:58
2. Robert Margalis 10:00
3. Lyle Nalli 10:08
4. Derrick Wong 10:26
5. Kellyn Carlson 10:27
6. Katy Phifer 11:21

Kids Division Top Finishers:
Female: Nora Deleske 10:38
Male: Mo Bourdi 10:42

And if you do not make it this year, there is always next year.

Video of the 64th annual Huntington Beach Pier Swim is posted below:

Photos by Sean Vo.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association