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Local teens take part in swim from Alcatraz

Swimming club members participate in emerging sport

Posted: September 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Kenny Payne, 13, right, and Tyler Collins, 13, left, prepare for the Alcatraz Invitational Swim in San Francisco.

 

 Braving cold and choppy waters, a group of Santa Clarita Valley swimmers hit the San Francisco Bay recently for the Tiburon, a one-nautical-mile swim race, and the Alcatraz Invitational, a separate open-swim event.

Open swimming, a competitive sport involving swimming in natural bodies of water, has steadily risen in popularity since it was declared an Olympic sport for the 2008 Olympics, said Jeff Conwell, who coaches for the Canyons Aquatic Club.

“I trained normally for swimming (in a pool) so I’d be in shape for it,” said Kenny Payne, 13, of Santa Clarita, describing the race.

A dozen local swimmers ages 13-16 who made the trip to the Bay Area, along with a handful of adults, according to Tom Payne, one of the club’s organizers.

“The water was really cold, and it was just a long race, so I got tired by the end, and the currents ...” he said, describing the challenges.

It was the second time the Rio Norte eighth-grader attempted the race, which is considered “a sprint” in open water swimming terms, according to Conwell.

The trip was organized by H20 Open Plus, a local open swimming club with dozens of members. Similar clubs have been sprouting up all over the country during the last few years, Conwell said.

Every year of a Summer Olympic Games, the sport enjoys another push, Conwell said, and next year, local residents will get a chance to catch the action in person.

In May 2013, USA Swimming, which is the ruling body for indoor and open swimming, is bringing the national championship to Castaic Lake.

It will give local residents a chance to check out the national level of competition, which will include a 5K or 10K race, Conwell said.

“There’s a lot more tactic involved,” he said, “passing, drafting — you could relate it to NASCAR a little bit.”

psmith@the-signal.com

661-287-5526

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