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Saturday, July 13, 2013

You Better Be Strong In Newport

Newport Beach, home of The Wedge, the renowned body surfing spot in Southern California, had some pretty decent surf.

And so it was today was no different.

The organizers of the Newport Pier-2-Pier delayed the start a bit in order for the surf to calm a bit, but it was still a challenge when 6-8 foot face swells came headlong to the starting point.

The Newport Pier-2-Pier is a 2-mile summer classic founded by Buddy Belshe, a legendary Newport Beach, California lifeguard, in 1976. The Newport Pier-2-Pier Swim is part of the Newport Beach Ocean Swims that include the Don Burns Scholarship Swim.

"Today, you just had to be aggressive and safe," said women's winner Lexie Kelly.

"And of course, timing had so much to do with getting out beyond the crashing surf. When the biggest wave came, I dove under like everyone else around me. I just hung onto the sand at the bottom of the ocean and felt this huge, powerful mass of water pass over me. I lost about 45 seconds getting pummeled in the first two waves. I hit them at the complete wrong time and took a horrible line in way too close.

Rebecca [Soni] came down with my and my friend Kat. We were doing somersaults under the surf. But after I popped up after the waves passed, it was really nice and smooth out there. Until the finish, of course

"Yeah, it was great," echoed Simon Millar, a business executive from New Zealand (shown above before the 2-mile race from the Balboa Pier to the Newport Beach Pier). "The Newport lifeguards set us off on the start between sets so that was good, but I had a rough start. I got pummeled and my goggles feel off. But I love that swim. The sun always begins to shine halfway through and you end up on a beautiful sunny sandy beach."

And the end was gnarly with awkward depths caused by the pounding surf. But multi Olympic gold medalist and great body surfer Aaron Peirsol was totally in his element and body surfed in to finish fourth.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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