Scenes from last year’s the 64th annual Huntington Beach Pier Swim are courtesy of WOWSA from Huntington Beach, California.

65 years ago, legendary Huntington Beach lifeguard Gene Belshe started the Huntington Beach Pier Swim.

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 big waves. Gene started it as a kid’s race and now we have 16 age divisions. Even when the race is not cancelled by big waves, we still have to save [help] 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.”

Katie Rowe of Swim Long Beach encouraged her teammates to start practicing for the ocean swim. “Today was the first ocean practice of the summer [offering] Ocean Swimming 101 with Professor Hank Wise. (for you tech peeps, that’s Ocean Swimming v1.0). Look for the other groggy swimmer types. You are in the right place. Hank will give some tips, then we will swim the pier. Done by 6:45 and on your way to your day job.

Never been in the ocean before? Tomorrow is a great day not to start. Huntington Beach is not for the weak, the faint of heart, or those that come from a poor bloodline. Except on some days. You of course can make a decision once you see it. We won’t judge. Can you bring a wetsuit? Of course you can! Leave it in your car
.”

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Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association