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Athletes Gear Up For Labor Day Swim Around Oceanside Pier

Swimmers race into the ocean for the Oceanside Labor Day Pier Swim, 2009.
Promise Yee
Swimmers race into the ocean for the Oceanside Labor Day Pier Swim, 2009.

Hundreds will celebrate Labor Day next week by diving into the ocean for a one-mile swim around the Oceanside Pier. The competitive swim has been an annual tradition for 86 years.

People participate for a number of reasons. Triathletes use the event to train for upcoming competitions in fall. Others enter to improve their own personal best each year.

Eileen Turk, Oceanside Parks and Recreation division manager, has participated in the swim several times. Turk said the challenge of the open water swim is the unpredictable ocean waves. She added that there is a deep satisfaction in finishing.

“One time was an absolute beautiful day — the water temperature was 72, the water, the ocean was really calm, it was the perfect day to do it,” Turk said. “And then a year later I participated and it was a really rough day. And some very experienced pier swimmers said they were going to pull out, they weren’t going to do it. And I said 'what the heck I’m going to go for it.'”

This year water temperatures have been warm, and race day conditions are expected to be good. Swimmers will enter the water in heats 20 minutes apart. The average age of competitors is 45. The top finish time last year was 18 minutes.

Eileen Turk, Oceanside Parks and Recreation division manager, awaits the start of the pier swim, September 2009.
Promise Yee
Eileen Turk, Oceanside Parks and Recreation division manager, awaits the start of the pier swim, September 2009.

The Oceanside Swim Club took over holding the event in the 1970s, and uses it as an annual fundraiser. Last year close to $6,000 was raised.

The city ensures lifeguards are there to safeguard swimmers. Check in time for this year’s Oceanside Labor Day Pier Swim closes at 8 a.m. on Labor Day. The first heat takes off at 8:30 a.m. Those planning to join in the swim or cheer on participants are encouraged to arrive early, due to the busy holiday weekend and downtown construction.