Noah Zhang and Alison Hayden won the 9.2-mile (14.8 km) Swim for Alligator Lighthouse today in Islamorada in the Florida Keys. The marathon swim took soloists and relays (duos and quads) from Islamorada, Florida around the Alligator Lighthouse and back.
17-year-old Zhang from Florida and Hayden from New Jersey (4:02:38) topped the 180 athletes in the 14.8 km ocean swim in the Atlantic.
Zhang completed the swim in 3 hours 46 minutes. “This is the craziest race I have ever done. When I came around the lighthouse I saw two turtles and a couple of barracudas. I snorkeled the reef at the lighthouse as a kid, so this was a great excuse to come back to the Keys.
“I wanted to get out fast, keep a good pace and stay there. The guy behind me (Diego De Los Rios of Miami Beach) pushed me, which was good.”
Local Islamorada swimmers David Jacobson, Tracy Collett, Robert Kelley and Eric Wunderlich won the four-person quad relay division with a time of 4:09:18. Hollywood, Florida residents Bennett Rodriguez and Carly Hyman teamed up to win the two-person duo division with 3:50:05.
Hayden won the women’s division with a time of 4:02:38.
“The event was staged as a college scholarship fundraiser for Keys students interested in competitive swimming, but also to raise awareness of a need to preserve the 143-year-old Alligator Reef Lighthouse and five other aging lighthouses off the Florida Keys,” explained race director Jonathan Strauss of Miami.
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