WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
January 7, 2011
Alfredo Mesa Jr. and Kevin Porto will represent South Florida Aquatic Club in Saturday’s International Swimming Hall of Fame’s 41st annual Fort Lauderdale Rough Water Swim off Fort Lauderdale beach.
Mesa, 12, and Porto, 11, are members of the Bronze Group and coached by Rose Lockie at the Academic Village Pool.
The pair will be greeted by 52-degree weather in the morning. A high of 76 degrees is expected by midday for the mostly sunny weather forecast.
Fran Crippen, who tragically died in a FINA-sanctioned open water event in October in United Arab Emirates, will be honored during the event.
Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha, the 2010 FINA Open Water Swimmer of the Year, and Pan American Games champion Ricardo Monasterio, will participate in the event in honor of Crippen. Both are training with the Davie Nadadores during the holidays.
Cunha, 18, finished third in the same 10K race that Crippen lost his life in. Monasterio is a friend and former competitor of Crippen’s.
“We are swimming to honor Fran’s memory and to share his and our love of open water swimming,” Monasterio said.
Said Cunha, “We also want to show that open water swimming is very safe if safety precautions are followed. That was not the case in Dubai where there were few observers and both the water and air were excessively hot.
“Open water swimming is a wonderful sport,” Cunha said. “We are more than satisfied that this swim (in Fort Lauderdale) will be as safe as any competition in a pool.”
Crippen was in Fort Lauderdale last year to conduct an open water clinic for local swimmers and coaches and also won the Rough Water Swim in 19 minutes and 25.4 seconds.
ISHOF is working closely with Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue to ensure all standards established by the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) for open water swimming are in place including safety buoys.
The swim is parallel to the beach and swimmers will be observed from both the beach and ocean side of the course.
“Given the recent tragedy in Dubai, we are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of every swimmer,” said ISHOF curator and race director Bob Duenkel.
Race officials are also providing 300 safety buoys and encouraging swimmers to use them for an experiment to determine if they are viable for future open water races.
The open water swim was started in 1969 by the legendary Buck Dawson, founder of the International Swimming Hall of Fame Museum and one of the early open water swimming pioneers.
ISHOF CEO Bruce Wigo is hoping for a good turnout of swimmers of all ages from local clubs, high school and masters teams to the popular event. Numbers were low last year, he said.
Awards will be presented for the one mile swim in age group, college and masters divisions as well as the top 10 male and female finishers.
Registration is underway online at www.ishof.org or at the ISHOF Gift and Pro Shop. There is also race day registration up to one hour before the race with an additional $10 fee.
The race begins at 9:30 a.m. on Fort Lauderdale Beach at Vistamar Street. The race finishes in front of the ISHOF facility on the beach at SE Fifth Street.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org