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Hundreds Hit the Beach For 78th Annual Oceanside Pier Swim

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The oldest rough water swim in California took place today. More than 400 people hit the water for the 78th annual swim around the pier in Oceanside. KPBS reporter Alison St John was there.

Hundreds Hit the Beach For 78th Annual Oceanside Pier Swim

The oldest rough water swim in California took place today. More than 400 people hit the water for the 78th annual swim around the pier in Oceanside. KPBS reporter Alison St John was there.

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Surfers reluctantly relinquished the waves next to the pier to hundreds of swimmers of all ages, shapes, and sizes.

Julia Maxwell is a master swimmer who likes leaving the lap pool for an ocean race once in a while.

<b> Maxwell </b> : I swim with the JCC Masters in La Jolla so people have come from all over.

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<b> Reporter </b> : So how would you sum up conditions?

<b> Maxwell </b> : The water's a little chilly, the waves are a little big, but I think that it's nice that it's warm outside so we actually want to get in the water.

The ocean water was 66 degrees, and the crowds of red, white, and silver-capped swimmers didn't hesitate to wade in and strike out for the end of the pier half a mile away.

However, the surf was so high some didn't make it out, while others were swept off course by strong currents. Most made it round the one mile course and arrived to cheers on the other side.

Julia came in second in her heat.

<b> Julia </b> : It was fun. The current was very strong -- big waves: hard to get out and hard to get in -- but other than that it was a very good swim. The water warmed up really quickly.

Swimmers from as far away as Michigan, New York, and Oregon signed up for the pier swim. Some said they were warming up for the La Jolla rough water swim next weekend.

By 9:30 a.m., the race was over, the beach was filling up, and the surfers gratefully returned to take over the waves.

Alison St John, KPBS News.