Aussies rule in Semana Nautica 3-mile swim

About the only thing missing at East Beach on Sunday morning was the chant, “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi.”

Australians Max Halson and Luane Rowe took the top honors in the Semana Nautica 3-mile open-water swim on an overcast morning. Halson, 18, was the overall winner in 57 minutes, 10 seconds, nipping Team Santa Monica teammate Jordan Wilimovsky (57:29). Rowe, 21, was the women’s champion (7th overall) in 1 hour, 3 minutes, 31 seconds.

The top local finisher was Ed Smith in ninth place in 1:08.00. Chris Braden came in 10th in 1:08.25 and world age-group triathlon champion Kathrine Warren was 11th in 1:08.38.

Halson was in a lead group of four swimmers, which included former champion Alex Kostich, rounding the final buoy. At that point, he and Wilimovsky, 17, started to pull away and battled to the end. Kostich finished third in 58:00, Nicholas Vargas fourth in 59:09 and Andrew Hecker fifth in 1:01.51.

Halson, who last month swam the 10k and 5k races at the USA Swimming Open Water National Championships, said he’s been open-water swimming for about 5-6 years.

He noted that the sport is very popular in his native Australia.

“A lot of big-time swimmers are celebrities,” he said.

Asked if he was considered a celebrity back home, Halson laughed and said, “Maybe in the under-18 level, not the open. Not yet.”

Halson said his goal is to compete in open-water swimming at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. He’s currently training and competing for Team Santa Monica and plans to attend Santa Monica College in the fall.

Rowe is a seasoned open-water swimmer at a young age. She’s won the Waikiki Rough Water Swim in Hawaii three consecutive years, been on three straight winning women’s relay teams at the Maui Channel Swim and has won Australian races like the Cole Classic and Macquarie Big Swim.

She plans to do the English Channel later this year.

Swimming is part of Rowe’s life. She works for an industrial design company in the San Francisco Bay Area that specializes in swim products. For her senior project at Industrial Design School in Sydney, she designed FuelUp, a sustenance delivery system for open water swimming.

She’s in Santa Barbara on a short vacation and learned about the Semana Nautica swims though the Internet — she did the 1-mile on Saturday and was the second woman finisher and 11th overall.

“The circuits are different here,” she said. “In Sydney, there is one governing body that lists all the ocean swims, whereas here everybody has their own Web site.

“I’m slowly getting into it, trying to find races every weekend.”


  1. go australia!! can’t wait for 2016 olympic trials!! this max halson boy seems like the boy we have to watch out for since iv never heard of him…