Roderick rises to occasion, wins Semana Nautica 6-miler in his debut

Alex Roderick emerges from the water as the champion of the Semana Nautica 6-Mile Ocean Swim.

Alex Roderick emerges from the water as the champion of the Semana Nautica 6-Mile Ocean Swim.

Alex Roderick had been thinking about doing the Semana Nautica 6-mile ocean swim for a year.

He was up for it last summer, but at 16 he didn’t meet the event’s minimum age requirement for participation.

Now eligible to enter at 17, the Santa Barbara High senior-to-be took the plunge in the cold water Sunday morning and won the challenging swim from the Goleta Beach Pier to Arroyo Burro Beach in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 16 seconds.

Local triathlete Karen Schultz was the women’s winner and placed sixth overall in 2:13.45.

Arjun McAvoy, clad in a red, white and blue, star-spangled USA swim suit, was the second finisher in 2:09.47; Moby Coquilland placed third in 2:11.11; Ed Smith was fourth in 2:13.06 and Dr. John Chung came in fifth in 2:13.32.

Forty-two of the 43 entrants completed the race.

When he got in the water Sunday, Roderick wondered if he was doing the right thing.

“The water was really cold (61 degrees) as soon as I hopped in,” he said. “I didn’t think this was going to be a good idea, but I started cruising with some other guys and we had a good pace, and I thought I was going to do pretty well.”

Other than the coldness of the water, the conditions were favorable for the swimmers.

“It felt like a lake. There were no swells, wind, not anything to negatively affect me,” said Roderick.

Karen Schultz was the women's champion and placed sixth overall.

Karen Schultz was the women’s champion and placed sixth overall.

“It was really nice,” said Schultz, who was competing in her second Semana Nautica 6-miler. “It was smooth at the beginning. The last half mile the visability was nice; I could see the bottom.”

Ben Brewer, Roderick’s friend, Santa Barbara High swim teammate and his paddler on Sunday, felt relieved about the conditions after checking the forecast the day before.

“Looking at the weather forecast, it was saying 10-to 15-mph headwinds and really cold water, so I was nervous,” he said. “But once we got out there it was glassy and smooth, and (Alex) just seemed strong the whole way.”

Roderick is a beach lifeguard and trains and competes for the Santa Barbara Swim Club. Yet even as fit as he is, the 6-miler took its toll on him.

“I went pretty easy for the first couple of miles then my legs started getting super tired,” he said. “By the third mile, my legs were kind of floating behind; I was going all arms the rest of the race. But I kept taking energy gels and maintained a lot of energy. I was pretty much towing myself with my arms.”

He said Brewer’s guidance was key. “He was putting me in the right direction. He was a good help.”

Schultz also fought off fatigue at the three-mile mark.

“I relaxed a little bit and got a second wind around four miles. It’s funny how it works,” she said.

Schultz, a technician for the Mosquito and Vector Management District of Santa Barbara County, was bitten by the swimming bug when she was in the 7th grade. She swam at the University of Minnesota from 1998-2002 and moved to Santa Barbara in 2003. She started ocean swimming in 2006 and has competed in two Ironman Triathlons. She plans to do a 10-mile ocean swim in La Jolla in September.

Roderick had done the Semana Nautica 3-mile ocean swim, but when he talked of doing the 6-miler, his friends had their doubts.

“No one really believed him at first when he said he was doing the 6 mile,” Brewer said. “I was like, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’”

What does Brewer think now that his friend has done it and won it?

“It’s really impressive he did this whole race,” he said.

After all of his own doubts, Roderick said he’s glad he did it.

“I’m definitely happy I did it; it was a good idea,” he said while shivering on the beach. “I don’t know if I’ll do it again but this is definitely an achievement I’m happy about.”


1. Alex Roderick 2:07.16

2. Arjun McAvoy 2:09.47

3. Moby Coquillard 2:11.11

4. Ed Smith 2:13.06

5. John Chung 2:13.32

6. Karen Schultz (women’s champion) 2:13.45

7. Noah Garrett 2:17.04

8. Holden Hardcastle 2:18.10

9. Chip Blankenhorn 2:18.15

10. Zach Jirkovsky 2:21.13

11. Bart Simmons 2:24.33

12. Abby Bergman 2:26.14

13. Jessica Lambert 2:27.08

14. Ecla Eser 2:28.58

15. Tamie Stewart 2:31.17

16. Peter Hayden 2:31.56

17. Rebecca Nevitt 2:34.11

18. Becky Vossler 2:34.23

19. Rachel Horn 2:35.56

20. David Neilan 2:38.21

21. George Durzi 2:38.25

22. Scott Blietz 2:41.50

23. Dave Van Mouwerik 2:42.29

24. Tim Hayes 2:50.31

25. David Pekarek 2:56.08

26. James Wilber 3:01.38

27. Wendy Theders 3:03.47

28. Paige Foreman 3:08.39

29. Gerald George 3:12.14

30. Tiffany McQueen 3:16.29

31. Grace Frias 3:18.31

32.Katherine Horvath 3:21.40

33. Dmitry Vasilkov 3:22.10

34. Sean Reynolds 3:23.13

35. Ken Hintz 3:24.33

36. Alex Honor 3:29.51

37. Zach Reeves 3:30.15

38. Kimberly Rutherford 3:32.36

39. Michelle McConica 3:35.06

40. Eileen Span 3:37.56

41. Lynn Kubasek 3:50.37