Bullock blisters Surf Festival Pier to Pier Swim
Under skies filled with monsoonal moisture, more than 1,000 swimmers completed the Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim.Water temperatures in the low 70s provided ideal conditions for fast times.
Race director Dwight Crum said the race, which is named after his father, was one of the most competitive since its founding in 1962. Seven former winners competed, including 10-time winner Alex Kostich, who finished fourth overall and first in the 40-44 division with a time of 40:42.
Crum said this year’s race was also notable for entries by Nate Higgins, who is paralyzed from the waist down and a blind swimmer. The two swimmers were cheered to the finish in just under 1:50.
Competing in the race for the second time, Ryan Bullock, 30, of Hermosa Beach defeated reigning champion Kevin Fink with a time of 37 minutes, 54 seconds.
“I wasn’t expecting to go that fast,” Bullock said. “The conditions were perfect. It was awesome out there. Having a paddler that helped keep me going straight was beneficial. I finished fifth last year and got off to a bad start that forced me to catch up. This year I had a much better start.”
Bullock, who swims with Los Angeles Peninsula Swimmers, shaved 3:49 off last year’s time despite stumbling in holes three times while coming out of the surf.
An audiologist with South Bay Hearing & Balance Center in Torrance, Bullock has completed a variety of long-distance swims including the 1.5-mile Alcatraz Classic Swim with the Centurions in San Francisco Bay (without a wetsuit) and setting the record for the 11-mile Portland Bridge Swim in Oregon’s Willamette River.
Fink, 18, who improved on his 2013 winning time of 41:21, was disappointed with the outcome, but pleased with his performance.
“It was good to beat last year’s time,” Fink said. “I just kept up a good pace. I didn’t try too hard in the beginning. There were freezing cold patches in the water, then really warm patches which were kind of weird. But the water was really clear and the air temperature was great. I was a lot faster this year, Ryan just beat me.”
Cory Mayfield, 20, of Torrance finished in third place at 39:19.
Only fourteen seconds separated the top three women that ended with a sprint to the finish.
Mallory Mead, 28, of West Los Angeles posted a time of 43:21 edging Manhattan Beach’s Diane Graner Gallas, 50, by one second.
“The water conditions were great and we had a fantastic racing temperature,” said Mead, who finished 13th overall. “Coming in I was caught in a rip and was having a hard time getting out. The men I was ahead of at the finish got out ahead of me.”
Mead is a professional marathon swimmer who, in 2010, became the 39th person in the world to complete the “Triple Crown” of Open Water Swimming when she swam the 21-mile Catalina Channel. Previously she had swum the English Channel and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.
“I swam the Dwight Crum two years ago but missed last year when I was competing in Canada,” Mead said. “I’m used to swims that are 25K or longer, so this is a short one for me.”