Saturday, April 16,  2005, 10:01 pm Eastern Time

For Immediate Release

SOURCE: Distance Matters, Inc.

Californians Dominate at the Eighth Annual 24 Mile Tampa Bay Marathon Swim

CLEARWATER, FL--Forest Nelson, 39, of Los Angeles fought through a strong head-wind and large waves to become the over-all solo champion at the Eighth Annual Tampa Bay Marathon Swim.  His official time was 10 hours, 21 minutes. The women's champion was Leslie Thomas, 30, of San Francisco who swam to the Howard Frankland Bridge in 11 hours, 58 minutes.

Southern Californian relay team SoCal Kao lele II (Bill Ireland, 45, Kris Behrens, 30, Chris Yontz, 40, Suzy Nicoletti, 25,  Patrick Dixon, 56 and Mac Montgomery, 55), were the first relay to finish with a time of 9 hours, 2 minutes.  The three-person relay champions were local team Rip Tide (Brian Rimel, 38, Tim Kennedy, 48, and Zach Pruitt, 30, of St. Petersburg) who finished only seven minutes later. 

Due to the treacherous conditions, the swim was done on a "best-efforts" basis, with many competitors opting to finish at the St. Petersburg Pier, the Gandy Bridge, or the Howard Frankland Bridge.   Only six solo swimmers were able to complete the entire 24 mile course to Ben T. Davis Beach, out of the 19 swimmers who started the race.  Of the ten relay teams competing, only 4 completed the full course.

SOLO SWIMMERS - MEN RESULTS

Forrest Nelson, 39, of Los Angeles, California finished first over-all in 10 hours, 21 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

Jose Serra, 31, of Guatemala City, Guatemala  was second, completing the swim in 10 hours, 55 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

Ray Gandy, 43, of Coventry, Rhode Island finished third over-all with a time of 11 hours, 1 minute at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

Ross Reichard, 34, of Albequerque, New Mexico was the fifth finisher, swimming 12 hours, 4 minutes to Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

Joe Wolf, 37, of Denver, Colorado made it to the end for the second year in a row with 12 hours, 31 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

Vince Herring, 62, of Rochester, Minnesota was the final individual to complete the course,  swimming 12 hours, 34 minutes to Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

Mark Monticino, 41, of  San Diego, California finished after swimming 7 hours to the Gandy Bridge (18 miles).

Dave Parcells, 47, of Madison, Connecticut swam 4 hours, 13 minutes to be the first finisher at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

Jeff Magouirk, 43, of Westminister, Colorado finished in 4 hours, 15 minutes at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

Kevin Joubert, 32, of Towson, Maryland swam 4 hours, 28 minutes to the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

Todd Landin, 29, of Boulder, Colorado swam 4 hours, 41 minutes to the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

Jason Pipoly, 33, of Nashville, Tennessee finished in 5 hours, 50 minutes at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

Hal Clarendon, 59, of Gainesville, Florida  swam 6 hours, 58 minutes to the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

David Cameron, 29, of St. Louis Park, Minnesota  5 hours one mile shy of St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

Greg Langsett, 52, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida retired at Pinellas Point due to hypothermia.

Marcos Diaz, 30, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic retired at Pinellas Point due to hypothermia.

SOLO SWIMMERS - WOMEN RESULTS

Leslie Thomas, 30, of San Francisco, California finished her swim in 11 hours, 58 minutes at the Howard Frankland Bridge (21 miles).

Suzanne Dods, 44, of Larkspur, California finished in 5 hours, 20 minutes at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

Flavia Zappa, 37, of Bradenton, Florida finished in 7 hours, 5 minutes at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

Laura Collette, 40, of San Jose, California was a late scratch due to a business trip to Bejing , China.  She plans to return in May to make her attempt.

RELAY RESULTS

SoCal Kao lele II ( Bill Ireland, 45, Kris Behrens, 30, Chris Yontz, 40, Suzy Nicoletti, 25,  Patrick Dixon, 56 and Mac Montgomery, 56) of Southern California finished in  9 hours, 2 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

Rip Tide (Brian Rimel, 38,Tim Kennedy, 48, and Zach Pruitt, 30 ) of St. Petersburg, Florida swam 9 hours, 9 minutes to Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

Tampa Bay Aquatic Club ( Joe Solak, 39, Bart Cobb, 50, and Tom Rawls, 36) of  Tampa, Florida finished in 10 hours, 26 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

Glory Days (G. J. LaBonty, 41, Ruth Cole, 38, John Thorp, 41, and Katy Hillard, 22) of Florida and Utah completed the swim in 12 hours, 6 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

Florida Goldcoast Masters (Scott Coleman, 50, Nicki Jones and Cori Graham) of Boca Raton, Florida finished in 7 hours, 34 minutes at the Gandy Bridge (18 miles).

Brighton Beach Memoirs (James Meier, 60, Lori Carena, 51, and Cristian Vergara, 46) from New York City, New York swam 9 hours, 30 minutes to the Gandy Bridge (18 miles).

Jill's Johns (Jill Moberg, 42, Jonathan Maier, 41, Gary Emich, 54, and Steve Hurwitz, 44) of New York and California swam 9 hours, 36 minutes to the Gandy Bridge (18 miles).

# 9 Relay Team (Mike Embry, 57, John Neukamm, 44,  Albert Robinson, 61, David Kirkam, 50, Jim Zinner, 50, and Mandy Zipf, 39) of Tampa, Florida swam 3 hours, 39 minutes to the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles)

The Patricks (Patrick Spearing, 41 from New York, New York, and Patrick McLeroth, 33 from Baltimore, Maryland) swam 4 hours 41 minutes to finish at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

Beauty and the Beasts (John Cox, 70, Lisa Flanagan, 42, Konrad Euler, 69, Robert Aldrich, 56, and Laura Kaleel, 44) of St. Petersburg, Florida finished in 5 hours, 5 minutes at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

2005 PICTURES

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USMS OFFICIAL RESULTS

25-29 Men

1.  Todd Landin, 29, of Boulder, Colorado swam 4 hours, 41 minutes to the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

2.  David Cameron, 29, of St. Louis Park, Minnesota  5 hours one mile shy of St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

30-34 Men

1.  Jose Serra, 31, of Guatemala City, Guatemala  was second, completing the swim in 10 hours, 55 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

2.   Ross Reichard, 34, of Albequerque, New Mexico was the fifth finisher, swimming 12 hours, 4 minutes to Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

3.   Kevin Joubert, 32, of Towson, Maryland swam 4 hours, 28 minutes to the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

4.   Jason Pipoly, 33, of Nashville, Tennessee finished in 5 hours, 50 minutes at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

5.   Marcos Diaz, 30, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic retired at Pinellas Point due to hypothermia.

35-39 Men

1.  Forrest Nelson, 39, of Los Angeles, California finished first over-all in 10 hours, 21 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

2.   Joe Wolf, 37, of Denver, Colorado made it to the end for the second year in a row with 12 hours, 31 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

40-44 Men

1.   Ray Gandy, 43, of Coventry, Rhode Island finished third over-all with a time of 11 hours, 1 minute at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

2.   Mark Monticino, 41, of  San Diego, California finished after swimming 7 hours to the Gandy Bridge (18 miles).

3.   Jeff Magouirk, 43, of Westminister, Colorado finished in 4 hours, 15 minutes at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

45-49 Men

Dave Parcells, 47, of Madison, Connecticut swam 4 hours, 13 minutes to be the first finisher at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

50-54 Men

1.  Greg Langsett, 52, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida retired at Pinellas Point due to hypothermia.

55-59 Men

1.  Hal Clarendon, 59, of Gainesville, Florida  swam 6 hours, 58 minutes to the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

60-64 Men

1.  Vince Herring, 62, of Rochester, Minnesota was the final individual to complete the course,  swimming 12 hours, 34 minutes to Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

SOLO SWIMMERS - WOMEN RESULTS

30-34 Women

1.  Leslie Thomas, 30, of San Francisco, California finished her swim in 11 hours, 58 minutes at the Howard Frankland Bridge (21 miles).

35-39 Women

1.  Flavia Zappa, 37, of Bradenton, Florida finished in 7 hours, 5 minutes at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

40-44 Women

1.  Suzanne Dods, 44, of Larkspur, California finished in 5 hours, 20 minutes at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

2.  Laura Collette, 40, of San Jose, California was a late scratch due to a business trip to Bejing , China.  She plans to return in May to make her attempt.

RELAY RESULTS

3 Person - Men

1.  Rip Tide (Brian Rimel, 38,Tim Kennedy, 48, and Zach Pruitt, 30 ) of St. Petersburg, Florida swam 9 hours, 9 minutes to Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

2. Tampa Bay Aquatic Club ( Joe Solak, 39, Bart Cobb, 50, and Tom Rawls, 36) of  Tampa, Florida finished in 10 hours, 26 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

3 Person - Mixed

1.  Florida Goldcoast Masters (Scott Coleman, 50, Nicki Jones and Cori Graham) of Boca Raton, Florida finished in 7 hours, 34 minutes at the Gandy Bridge (18 miles).

2.  Brighton Beach Memoirs (James Meier, 60, Lori Carena, 51, and Cristian Vergara, 46) from New York City, New York swam 9 hours, 30 minutes to the Gandy Bridge (18 miles).

4 Person - Mixed

1.  Glory Days (G. J. LaBonty, 41, Ruth Cole, 38, John Thorp, 41, and Katy Hillard, 22) of Florida and Utah completed the swim in 12 hours, 6 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

2.  Jill's Johns (Jill Moberg, 42, Jonathan Maier, 41, Gary Emich, 54, and Steve Hurwitz, 44) of New York and California swam 9 hours, 36 minutes to the Gandy Bridge (18 miles).

6 Person - Mixed

1.  SoCal Kao lele II ( Bill Ireland, 45, Kris Behrens, 30, Chris Yontz, 40, Suzy Nicoletti, 25,  Patrick Dixon, 56 and Mac Montgomery, 56) of Southern California finished in  9 hours, 2 minutes at Ben T. Davis Beach (24 miles).

2.  # 9 Relay Team (Mike Embry, 57, John Neukamm, 44,  Albert Robinson, 61, David Kirkam, 50, Jim Zinner, 50, and Mandy Zipf, 39) of Tampa, Florida swam 3 hours, 39 minutes to the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles)

3.  Beauty and the Beasts (John Cox, 70, Lisa Flanagan, 42, Konrad Euler, 69, Robert Aldrich, 56, and Laura Kaleel, 44) of St. Petersburg, Florida finished in 5 hours, 5 minutes at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

2 Person - Men

1.  The Patricks (Patrick Spearing, 41 from New York, New York, and Patrick McLeroth, 33 from Baltimore, Maryland) swam 4 hours 41 minutes to finish at the St. Petersburg Pier (9 miles).

A Daunting Day On Tampa Bay
By BART O'CONNELL Tribune correspondent
Published: Apr 17, 2005

TAMPA - Chris Yontez staggered to his feet and ran toward the shore of Ben T. Davis Municipal Beach. The waves kicked up under him until he touched dry land for the first time in nine hours. ``I didn't know Tampa was so lovely,'' Yontez said, ``until I got to this beach.''  Yontez and teammates Pat Dixon, Mac Montgomery, Bill Ireland, Kris Behrens and Suzy Nicoletti were the first group to finish the annual Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, a 24-mile endurance race spanning the length of Tampa Bay.

The race began Saturday morning at 7:35 and the final swimmer to finish was 62-year-old Vince Herring, who came to shore at 8:09 p.m. Herring was the oldest to enter the race.  Because of harsh winds that brought 2- to 3- foot waves into the swimmers' faces, many diverted for the St. Petersburg Pier - a nine-mile swim - or stopped at the Gandy Bridge.

Yontez and his team, the SoCal Kao Iele, arrived at 4:37 p.m, finishing in 9 hours, 2 minutes. Seven minutes later, Rip Tide, a three-man relay team from St. Petersburg, came to shore.  Teammates Zach Pruitt, Brian Rimel and Tim Kennedy each took 30-minute turns in the water. Pruitt said the conditions were daunting.  Only four of 10 teams and six of 20 solo swimmers finished the 24-mile course.

Los Angeles resident Forrest Nelson, 39, won the individual competition in 10 hours, 21 minutes. He said he thought about stopping four times - three because he needed something for the pain. Nelson was followed by Guatemala native Jose Serra, who entered his first Tampa Bay Marathon swim to get ready for a 36-mile double crossing of the English Channel later this year.

All swimmers were accompanied by crews on power boats and kayaks, which supplied food and drink to the competitors. But even those out of the water were in danger because of the winds and waves.  The kayak assisting the Tampa Bay Aquatic Club relay team flipped. Team member Joe Solak, 39, said it was the only time the team thought about quitting.   Solak's team finished third among the relay teams in 10 hours, 26 minutes.

Meet the Competitors of the Eighth Annual 24 Mile Tampa Bay Marathon Swim

The 24 mile swim race starts at 7:30am from the Sunshine Skyway at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort (800 227 8045) and ends at Ben T. Davis Beach on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.   The race course covers the entire length of Tampa Bay and is held each year to celebrate Earth Day and the revitalization of Florida's largest estuary. 

Since this event was first staged in 1998, it has drawn competitors from across the United States, Great Britain, Dominican Republic, Guatamala, Germany, India, Canada, and the Cayman Islands.  A record fifty-seven participants have entered this year's event, either as soloists or as relay swimmers. Here are the twenty individual swimmers and the ten relay teams that participated in this year's event:

SOLO SWIMMERS - MEN

Jason Pipoly, 33, of Nashville, TN was only 4 miles away from becoming the youngest person to swim the English Channel on a rough and windy day in 1982.  In February 1998 while driving near Aspen, Colorado, he slid off the road, hit a tree and became a paraplegic. Almost 20 years after his first attempt, he became the second paraplegic in the world to swim the English Channel. The swim took 13 hours and 48 minutes beating his dad's time by almost 1 1/2 hours.  In 2003, he became the first paraplegic to swim from Los Angeles to Catalina Island in a swim that took 18 hours.
Marcos Diaz, 30, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is his country's national open water swimming champion. He is entering the Tampa Bay event for the third time after finishing third in 2002, and second in 2004.  He placed seventh in the 28 mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 2004, then went on to swim the English Channel in 9 hours, 56 minutes. 
Dave Parcells, 47, of Madison, Connecticut is returning for his 7th consecutive Tampa Bay Marathon Swim.  His highest place was in 2003 when he was overall champion with a time of 10 hours, 24 minutes.  In 2002, he became the oldest person ever to successfully complete a double crossing of the English Channel (21 hours, 30 minutes). Known as the "King of Tampa Bay" for completing the most swims of Tampa Bay, he is also the race director for the 25km Swim Across Long Island Sound
Jose Serra, 31, of Guatemala City, Guatemala was a national champion in several events dating back to 1984.  In 2001, he placed fourth at the 28 Mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.  In 2002, he swam the English Channel in 10 hours, 46 minutes and is planning a two-way attempt in 2005. 
Mark Monticino, 41, of  San Diego, CA began swimming in Miami, Florida before settling in San Diego after a stint in the Navy.  In 2003, he became the 101st person to swim the 21 Mile Catalina Channel finishing in 10 hours, 11 minutes.  He as completed 2 Alcatraz swims (1.5 mile), and 5 La Jolla Cove Gator Man Swims (3 miles).  He represents the La Jolla Cove Swim Club.  
Forrest Nelson, 39, of Los Angeles, CA trains at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center in Pasadena, California. He regularly competes in long distance ocean events in Maui, Santa Barbara, La Jolla, and is returning to the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim for his first solo attempt. In 2004, he was a member of the winning Tampa Bay relay with Craig Taylor & Bill Ireland. Last fall he swam the Catalina Channel in 10 hours, 35 minutes, and plans to swim the English Channel this summer. 
Hal Clarendon, 59, of Gainesville, FL competes for the Gator Swim Club and is making his 6th attempt to complete the Tampa Bay Swim. His longest attempt was in 2003, when he swam for more than eleven hours. He is the publisher of ADVENTURE magazine.
Vince Herring, 62, of Rochester, MN is a top USMS age grouper and All-American in postal and open water events.  He as completed the 12.5 mile Swim Around Key West twice (1997 & 2003).  In 2001 he swam 40 lakes in one day, and attempted 100 lakes in one day in 2004 but got sick and dropped out after 5 hours and 28 lakes. He racked up incredible one month totals in the February Fitness Challenge with 421,000 yards in 2003 and 427,000 yards in 2005.  He was also a member of a relay that did an English Channel double crossing in 2003. 
Kevin Joubert, 32, of Towson, MD has been swimming competitively for five years. He has done the 4.4 Mile Chesapake Bay Swim 4 times. He has finished in the top ten in the Race for the River in New York City, and the Escape from Fort Delaware Swim.   He coaches triathletes' swim classes and competes regularly in triathlons.
Joe Wolf, 37, of Denver, CO completed 24 marathon runs, then he ventured into the water in 2002 to compete in a few local triathlons before catching the marathon swimming bug. In 2004 he completed his first marathon swim in Tampa Bay in 12 hours, 15 minutes, then the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 8 hours, 17 minutes.  He went on to make a 10 hour attempt on the English Channel.   He has signed on for all 3 swims again this year.  In August, 2003, at the 22.5 Mile Atlantic City Around the Island Swim, he was forced out by a referee "for a little puking."
Ross Reichard, 34, of Albequerque, NM is a Doctor of Pathology at the University of New Mexico in Albequerque. He swam as an age grouper with the Lakeside Seahawks (Louisville, KY), in college at Centre College (Danville, KY) and now with the Lobo Masters (Albuquerque, NM). He has completed the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim twice (2000 - 8 hours, 31 minutes) (2004 - 7 hours, 57 minutes).
Ray Gandy, 43, of Coventry, RI was nationally ranked as an age grouper, holding multiple West Virginia state records.   He was a member of national record-breaking relay teams at NCAA Div II Clarion University of Pennsylvania.  As a masters swimmer he has been named All-American and has 8 annual top-ten results to his credit.  He has done open water swims in Newport, RI (1.7 miles),  Lake Champlain, NY/VT (8 miles), and Long Island Sound (12 miles).
Greg Langsett, 52, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL is an open water swimming veteran. He has competed in national championships in 3.2 mile and 8.5 mile distances.  In 1998, he was named USMS Long Distance All-American.
Jeff Magouirk, 43, of Westminister, CO has been training for two years after a 22 year lay off.  He was a member of the last Colorado State University men's swim team (1979-80).  He and training partner Joe Wolf swim on the Broomfield Breakers Masters team.   In 2004 he swam the 10KM Wingshadow Horsetooth Swim and has done several 1.2 mile swims as a member of triathlon relay teams.  He plans an assault on the English Channel in 2006.
Todd Landin, 29, of Boulder, CO was a sprinter in high school and college before turning into a triathlete in 1998. He did the Hawaiian Ironman in 2001, the Wingshadow Horsetooth 10K Swim in 2003, and attempted the English Channel in 2004. He plans another assault on the Channel in August 2005.
David Cameron, 29, of St. Louis Park, MN has been coaching masters and triathletes since 2000. He currently runs both the youth and Masters swim programs for the Minneapolis YWCA. He was a 15-time All-Conference Swimmer at Carleton in distance events. In 2004 he completed the English Channel finishing in 13 hours, 9 minutes.  Recently, he had his head shaved by some of his swimmers.

SOLO SWIMMERS - WOMEN

Laura Collette, 40, of San Jose, CA is returning to Tampa Bay for the fourth year in a row and considers the event a celebration of her birthday.  She has swum the English Channel, Lake Tahoe's width and length, the 9 mile Maui Channel, Santa Cruz to Monterey relay, Llyn Padarn, Wales, and has swum the 22 mile Loch Loman in Scotland.   Recent quote: "Long distance swimming is a passion to be fully enjoyed, and then we eat. "
Flavia Zappa, 37, of Bradenton, FL swims for the St. Petersburg Masters Swim Team.  She swam the 12.5 Mile Swim Around Key West in 2004 and competed in the United States Masters Swimming's 5K Postal Swim in 2003.
Leslie Thomas, 30, of San Francisco, CA calls herself,  "A fitness swimmer who happens to have a soft spot for long swims." She completed Lake Zurich in 2000 and attempted the English Channel in 2003. She is an instructor for Total Immersion Swim Camps and coaches a women's triathlon team. She also runs, hikes, surfs, and snow skis.  To find out more about Leslie, visit her on-line at www.Swim-Art.com.
Suzanne Dods, 44, of Larkspur, CA swam the width of Lake Tahoe in 1988 and the length in 1989. She completed the 12 mile Coronado Island Swim in 1996.  She was a member of an English Channel relay team in 1992 and 1993, then swam the English Channel as a soloist in 2003. Her Tampa Bay swim will be a benefit for Seacology.  Seacology is the world's premier nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with the sole and unique purpose of preserving the environments and cultures of islands throughout the globe.

RELAY SWIMMERS

Rip Tide are Brian Rimel, 38, Zach Pruitt, 30, and Tim Kennedy, 48, of St. Petersburg, Florida. They are top-ranked distance swimmers that compete for the St. Petersburg Masters Swim Team. In 1999, Kennedy completed the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim as a soloist in 10 hours, 42 minutes.
SoCal Kao lele II are Bill Ireland, 45, Kris Behrens, 30, Chris Yontz, 40, Suzy Nicoletti, 25,  Patrick Dixon, 56 and Mac Montgomery, 56.  They swim for Southern California Aquatics, and have done prior open water relays in Hawaii and La Jolla but never all together before Tampa Bay. Chris Yontz is one of the fastest open water swimmers in southern California.   He has been a top 10 finisher in the Waikiki Roughwater Swim and has won USMS open water age group races at several different distances.   Swimming as a soloist, he has won the La Jolla Roughwater, Coronado Roughwater, Seal Beach 1 mile swim and the Big Shoulders swim in Chicago. He hopes to do the English Channel in 5 years. Pat Dixon has been doing open water swims around the country for over 20 years, including the Maui Relay and the Waikiki Roughwater Swim 20 times each. Last summer Pat won the USMS National Championship 5KM in his age group, and his Maui Relay won the Grand Makule Division. Mac Montgomery is another long time open water and pool racer, and was on Pat's Grand Makule championship relay in 2004. Kris Behrens has done races from San Francisco to Hawaii, placing high in his age group, but usually slightly behind Suzy Nicoletti. Suzie is the youngest member of the team, has also raced in San Francisco and Hawaii, routinely winning her division and often being the overall female champion. Her Maui Relay team in 2004 was the overall mixed champion. Bill Ireland swam several races in 2004 including the Tampa Bay relay, the Hawaii races, the St. Croix 5 Mile Coral Reef Swim, and the Boston Light 8 Mile Swim where he was the overall winner..    
# 9 Relay Team are Mike Embry, 57, John Neukamm, 44,  Albert Robinson, 61, David Kirkam, 50, Jim Zinner, 50, and Mandy Zipf, 39.  They are from the Tampa Bay area and are swimming in their third consecutive Tampa Bay Marathon.  This year they are entered as a mixed relay now that they have added triathlon sensation Mandy Zipf to their team. 

Glory Days are G. J. LaBonty, 41, Ruth Cole, 38, John Thorp, 41, and Katy Hillard, 22.  LaBonty and Cole are from Utah, while Thorp and Hillard are from the Ft. Myers, Florida area and swim for Swim Florida Masters.  LaBonty swam at Temple University from 198 to 1985 and was on the North Wildwood Beach Patrol from 1983 to 1987.   He has completed the Chesapeake Bay Swim and the Canadian Ironman Triathlon.  John Thorp is returning to the water after a 20 year lay-off since his high school glory days on the swim team with G.J. LaBonty, hence the team name.   Katy Hillard swam on YMCA, club and high school teams from 1988 to 2000 and is returning to swimming after a five year break.  She says that, "This will be my first open water experience."

Tampa Bay Aquatic Club of  Tampa, Florida is represented by Joe Solak, 39, Bart Cobb, 50, and Tom Rawls, 36. They are competing in their sixth consecutive Tampa Bay Marathon Swim as a three-person relay team.  In 2003 and 2004, Cobb was a member of the #9 Relay Team. 
Jill's Johns are Jill Moberg, 42, Jonathan Maier, 41, Gary Emich, 54, and Steve Hurwitz, 44.  The three men are members of San Francico's South End Rowing Club,  while Jill is a New Yorker who they met when she acted as their official observer for their relay in the Manahattan Island Marathon Swim. According to her teammates, "She didn't protest when our co-ed team decided to do the entire relay buck-ass naked, so we adoped her."   Team members collectively have done relays across the Catalina Channel, the English Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar and the Boston Light swim.
Florida Goldcoast Masters are Scott Coleman, 50, Nicki Jones and Cori Graham.  Coleman was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1998. He returns to Tampa Bay five years after swimming the 2000 as a soloist with a time of 12 hours, 41 minutes.  He as completed Key West three times, Catalina, the Swim Across the Sound, Manhattan, and was the first male diabetic to swim the English Channel
Brighton Beach Memoirs are James Meier, 60, Lori Carena, 51, and Cristian Vergara, 46 from New York City, New York.  They are swimming Tampa Bay for the second consecutive year. Meier was named a USMS All-American last summer when he placed first in his age group in the National 10K Open Water Championship in Huntington Bay, New York.  During the winter he competes in cross-country skiing events. Over the years he has won 6 gold medals in the two-day, 100 Mile Canadian Ski Marathon, which is the longest such event in the world.  Lori Carena was a competitive age group swimmer in the Metropolitan AAU and a member of NYU Sports Hall of Fame. She trains for swims and triathlons with the NYU Tri Club, and plans to swim Manhattan, the Swim Across the Sound and the Strait of Gibraltar. Cristian Vergara started swimming open water 4 years ago, has done the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in a relay in 2002, and as a soloist in 2003 and 2004.  He also was member of a two-way relay crossing of the English Channel in 2003, and plans to swim as a soloist in July. In September, 2004 he swam the Strait of Gibraltar in the company of pilot whales.  From early May to November this relay team trains in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean at Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.
Beauty and the Beasts are John Cox, 70, Lisa Flanagan, 42, Konrad Euler, 69, Robert Aldrich, 56, and Laura Kaleel, 44.  They swim for the St. Petersburg Masters swim team. In Euler wasis the oldest person to swim Tampa Bay, completing the course when he was 64 years old. 

The Patricks are Patrick Spearing, 41 from New York, New York, and Patrick McLeroth, 33 from Baltimore, Maryland.  As a relay, they have done the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim four times, and have competed in the Little Red Lighthouse Swim twice, the Great Hudson River swim, and the Flag Day Intrepid Swim in New York City.  

Making waves
Jason Pipoly, who nearly swam the English Channel at 11, succeeded, more remarkably, as a paraplegic.
By DAVE SCHEIBER, Times Staff Writer  - Published April 13, 2005

See this story on-line at: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/04/13/Sports/Making_waves.shtml

It was the moment of a lifetime for an adventurous kid from Texas. There he sat in the seat reserved for showbiz legends, movie stars and marquee athletes on the set of The Tonight Show , answering questions from the king himself, Johnny Carson. At 11, Jason Pipoly had earned the rare invitation in 1982 for a most impressive feat: becoming the youngest person on the planet to attempt to swim across the English Channel.

His father, Carl Pipoly, had completed the brutal, 21-mile course between England and France two years earlier, and the boy wanted to match his dad's accomplishment. For more than eight hours he battled the relentless waves before succumbing to fatigue 4 miles short of the finish.

Still, it was enough to wow Carson, Ed McMahon and the studio audience. Pipoly was nervous, but he recalls how Carson made him feel at ease with his kindness and quips. During the show, Pipoly made a vow to the host. "I told him that I would someday go back and try it again," he said.

But the dream of completing the Channel swim faded over the years, as Pipoly became an avid skier, rock climber and surfer, eventually earning a fine arts degree from the University of Colorado. Then, on a winter day in 1998, the course of his life made a detour. While working as a photographer and handyman in Aspen, Pipoly was driving a little too fast and lost control of his car on a gravelly Colorado road. It flipped into a ravine. "I went to get out of the car, and I realized I couldn't feel my legs," he said. He had to be cut from the vehicle and air-lifted to a Grand Junction hospital. He was paralyzed from the chest down.

After grueling rehabilitation, while wondering what his future held, Pipoly found the answer on an old videotape his mother Mary played for him a year after the accident. It was from the magical evening of Oct.27, 1982, with the talk-show giant and the kid.  He saw something he had forgotten. The vow.  And that is why, when Pipoly competes Saturday in the eighth annual 24-mile Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, he brings a dazzling long-distance resume that includes this highlight: First American paraplegic swimmer to cross the English Channel.

Determination

The Carson tape immediately gave Pipoly a new perspective on his attempt at the Channel crossing.  "I really had never thought of (the first attempt) as a success, more like I had failed to complete it, but watching it again made me look at it entirely differently," Pipoly, 33, said by phone from his home in Nashville. "I felt like it was amazing that I had even tried.  "That's when I thought, "You know what? Maybe I could swim the English Channel as a paraplegic. This is something that I have to pursue."'

Pipoly had moved back home to Texas barely four months after the accident, living by himself in an apartment near his father in San Antonio. He didn't want special treatment, even refusing to get handicapped plates for his car. And one day in 1999, he broached the Channel idea with his dad.  "When he first told me he was going to swim the Channel, I didn't say anything to him, but I said to myself, "This is not good,"' Carl Pipoly said. "It's not a doable thing for him."'

But Pipoly asked his father to come out and watch him swim in nearby Boerne Lake, where he had been training on his own. "I watched him get out of the car, get in his wheelchair, get in the water and swim across and back - and my whole attitude completely changed," his father said.

Pipoly wanted to try the landmark swim immediately. His dad recalls several arguments over the timing, but he finally convinced his son not to rush but to prepare as thoroughly as possible. For three years, Pipoly immersed in a rigorous training regimen, swimming every day in a neighborhood pool where he once had competed. He felt a renewed sense of freedom and fulfillment that had eluded him since his accident.

He also realized he would not be able to swim the Channel without help. Specifically, he needed a flotation device to support his legs and keep him as streamlined as possible during a long swim. The solution was a pool buoy strapped to his legs. But there was also the matter of expense.  The proposed trip would cost about $10,000. Pipoly earned half of that through his job at a pool store, and his family helped with the rest.

Finally, in August 2002, he was ready. He entered the water filled with confidence, trailed by a boat that included his father, several cousins, some friends and a BBC cameraman. The first five hours were a breeze. Then, suddenly, it was as if he hit a wall. His arms ached. His stroke slowed. He began to doubt. "I thought, "Man, I just don't want to give up; I have to keep swimming,"' he said.

So he pushed on past six hours, past seven and eight, and finally began to get his second wind, forging on past globs of jellyfish and floating diesel fuel to reach the shoreline.  He had completed the course in 13 hours, 48 minutes, almost two hours faster than his father. And he had become only the second paraplegic to pull it off, joining former Australian rugby player John Maclean, who did it in 1998.

Pipoly could hear the muffled cheers coming from his father and friends on the trailing boat in the distance. In the placid darkness of a summer night, a world away from where his life had changed so drastically, he savored the moment by himself.  "I was pretty delirious," he said. "But there was no one around me on the shore. And I just felt a sense of quiet contentment."

Just a beginning

Pipoly's achievement was unsanctioned because the Channel Swimming Association doesn't allow anyone to use flotation devices. But he says he doesn't lose sleep over that. "I'm not swimming to get into the record book or show I'm better than anybody else," he said.  He's simply trying to challenge himself and encourage others facing difficult circumstances.

That is why, after the English Channel, his next big target was the Catalina Channel in September 2003, spanning 21 miles from Los Angeles Harbor to Catalina Island. Pipoly trained three hours a day, six days a week, and set out to swim the entire 42-mile round trip. He might well have done it if not for the frigid water and strong current that ended his attempt on the return leg after 26 miles over a span of 24 hours, 14 minutes and 16 seconds.

Still, he became the first paraplegic to conquer the Catalina Channel"It was amazing because the water was extremely cold and rough," said Kaia Halvorson, director of orthotics for the Bethesda, Md., Hanger Orthopedic Group Inc., which now sponsors Pipoly. "We were up all night throwing him food and water from the boat. It was an incredible tribute to Jason just to be able to do that swim."

He has done others, too - the five-hour swim of Boerne Lake, a 10-hour swim in Lake Erie and a 15-mile swim of Canyon Lake between Austin and San Antonio - and he may take another shot at the Catalina round trip. "He inspires me, " his father said.

Out of the water, Pipoly works as a patient advocate for Hanger, speaking with physical therapists and counseling people coming to grips with their disabilities. He also uses and gives demonstrations of a brace made by Hanger that enables him to stand and walk for short distances.

Pipoly recently moved to Nashville, where his fiancee, Vanessa Vance, attends Vanderbilt University and is studying special education. They fell in love about three years ago after meeting at a special modern dance seminar for able-bodied and disabled participants alike, staged by a professional company in Cleveland. Vance also needs a wheelchair, but it hasn't stopped them from dancing together, or Vance from dreaming of becoming a professional dancer.  "I told her that if it's something she wants to do after she gets her degree, then we'll go to Cleveland and see if she can do that," he said.

Pipoly's future marathon plans aren't set, though he knows he will continue swimming to challenge himself and hopefully inspire others who might need a boost. Swimming is only part of what has helped in his own healing process, he said, emphasizing that the real healing has come through his deep religious faith. "I think the Lord has a plan for me," he said.

So there's always a new body of water to tackle, a new challenge to overcome, for the kid who told Carson he'd be back one day to try again.

Past Results 04 | 03 | 02 | 01 | 00 | 99 | 98

Complete information including all results and event history is available at www.DistanceMatters.com.

SOURCE: Distance Matters, Inc.


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