Reef & Run kicks off its seventh season

 

It was beautiful Opening Day for the Reef & Run ocean swim events at East Beach on Thursday.

Participants had 61-degree water and little wind for the 500-meter, 1-k and 1-mile swims and a swim-run biathlon.

Two-time CIF Division 1 100 butterfly champion and USC-bound Alex Valente of Dos Pueblos High was the top finisher in the mile with a time of 24 minutes. 42 seconds. Local endurance athlete Karen Schultz was the women’s winner in 27:46. Sarah Webb was the overall champion of the 500-meter swim in 8:04 and Jake Ballantine was the men’s winner in 8:23. The 1k titles went to Santa Barbara Swim Club members Kelly Brewer (16:48) and Lila Roderick (20:13). Jamies Bray took top honors in the biathlon in 33:24 and Heather Roger was the women’s winner in 38:37.

Reef & Run director Jane Cairns said 175 people came out for the opener, which was free. She recalled that about 50 took part in the inaugural event.

“It’s grown into a nice family event,” she said. “We have a great group of people. People are excited … summer starts. This is the beginning of their summer.”

Many of those first-timers still come out to swim the event, which brings a big smile to Cairns’ face.

“I don’t know how many, but there are a lot from Day 1,” she said. “I’ll see them when they come through the chute after the swim and say, ‘Oh, my gosh. I haven’t seen you in a year.’ It’s just wonderful to see everyone come and support it and be happy and excited to be in the ocean.”

When she sees youngsters participate, it warms her heart.

“Probably one of my favorite parts of my whole day is watching the kids come out after the 500,” she said. “We had so many young participants last year and even more this year. It’s awesome. I love seeing the mom, the dad and the kid all swim in the same ocean at the same time.”

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