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Freestyle In Fall Folliage

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

24 swimmers from 8 states swam up and down the James River in Richmond, Virginia on October 4th.

The pack was competing for US$5,000 in the Peluso Open Water’s “To the Bridge & Back” 10-mile river swim.

There was a selection criteria that required an application that asked swimmers about their swimming background, goals, and reasons for competing. “Some swimmers, like pro triathlete and winner John Kenny were in it to win it. Some swimmers like Maura Smith, third overall female, were swimming in honor of University of Richmond alumni Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis who were lost to a tragic hot air balloon accident earlier this year.

Not everyone selected was the fastest or the fittest, but everyone was swimming for their own cause which gave the event an amazing vibe. The finish chute was an emotional place to be,” observed race director Jay Peluso.

The fall foliage of Richmond was the perfect backdrop for this first-time event. It coincided with the annual 5-mile event that Peluso Open Water organizes. Each swimmer was provided their own escort kayaker along the two 5-mile loops in the James River. Half of the race was swum against the current and, as the wind picked up later in the day, swimmers and kayakers alike had to handle very different conditions from the morning’s starting leg.”

As the wind picked up I had to paddle hard to keep up with my swimmer. It was a great workout – can’t wait ‘til next year,” said Charlene Wilhelm who paddled for second-place female finisher 62-year old Shirley Loftus-Charley.

10-mile Results (women):
1. Jessica Hevener 4:06:55
2. Shirley Loftus-Charley 4:23:02
3. Maura Smith 4:24:34
4. Jessica Lehman 4:31:51
5. Mariah Dudley 5:04:12
6. Tess Andres 5:07:49
7. Lisa Eagle 5:43:16

10-mile Results (men):
1. John Kenny 3:43:15
2. Shannon Varner 4:26:03
3. Ryan Dash 4:32:32
4. Jim McFarland 4:36:54
5. Daniel Szajta 4:45:47
6. Craig Dunbar 5:17:05
7. Grady Hough 5:28:57

5-mile Results (overall):
1. Chris Stevenson 1:55:09
2. Dave Bell 2:00:14
3. George Sushkoff 2:07:42
4. Denise Letendre 2:12:01
5. Randy Raggio 2:12:21
6. David Brown 2:18:15
7. Eric Engstrom 2:21:51
8. Matthew Williams 2:28:37
9. Katie O’Dair Watertown 2:29:04
10. Christian Parrish 2:30:52
11. Katie Pumphrey 2:30:53
12. Brad Sevart 2:31:41
13. Brian Morgan 2:33:47
14. Amy Frick 2:37:32
15. Stephanie Kramer 2:37:32
16. Nancy Placide 2:38:35
17. C. “Jonah” Holland 2:39:52
18. Bryan Kelley 2:45:30
19. Brian Kinnaman 2:48:55
20. Alexander David 2:49:19
21. Joseph Allen 3:02:25
22. Lori Lamb 3:03:56
23. John Foraste 3:07:26
24. Amelia Dean Cary 3:10:32
25. Molly McMahon 3:14:02
26. Kate Dowling 3:17:56
27. Kristi Turner 3:20:06
28. Virginia Marie Fontana 3:37:57

Photos above show the swimmers and their escort kayakers approach the World War II Veterans Memorial Bridge and kayakers dotting the James River as they escort their swimmers through the 10-mile route.

The 2015 event will be held on October 3rd; see here for more information.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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