Swimming The South Shore

Swimming The South Shore

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Back at the 2001 FINA World Swimming Championships, John Flanagan was swimming well in the 10 km race, solidly entrenched in the lead pack of 4 swimmers. The men had pushed the pace, separated from the others, and were sprinting towards the finish.

Flanagan, an ocean swimmer from Honolulu, Hawaii who had just graduated from Auburn University, was ready to win his first world championship medal. His heart was pounding wildly and the amount of lactic acid in his muscles was painful, but he was mentally prepared to shift into his final gear over the last 400 meters.

Then…POW! Flanagan’s head suddenly came straight out of the water as he nearly stopped. His face and the closed fist of a competitor came together in a violent clash of skin and bones. The punch took the wind out of his sails and shocked the race spectators who were cheering from a nearby rock jetty.

The attempt to stop Flanagan was clearly unfair and uncalled for. Unfortunately, Flanagan was never able to recover over the last 400 meters and ultimately finished fourth. Initially upset with the unsportsmanlike actions of his fellow competitor, the Honolulu native never let go of his inbred aloha spirit. He simply shifted gears into other activities.

Flanagan became a well-respected professional triathlete and then started to coach another generation of young pool and open water swimmers in his native state of Hawaii.

Now he is expanding into event organization and set up the inaugural South Shore Classic on Honolulu, Hawaii this coming May.

I’m super excited about the race format and potential,” says Flanagan from the shores of Waikiki with Diamond Head volcano in the background. “It will be held in Waikiki at Queen’s Surf Beach adjacent to the bodyboarding break Walls. I choose a very high tide for race start to maximize water depth and swimmer safety. People can watch almost all of the race from the Kapahulu groin because the course does not go out too far. Swimmers will be able to get their individual times for the races, but the prizes will go to those that cross the finish line first.”

Flanagan has developed a uniquely interesting race format.

Older swimmers will get a head start in the age group races with the younger swimmers starting first for the keiki race. The elite race will have the women with a head start on the men. Hopefully, it will come down to some exciting finishes.”

The event will actual hold four separate races: men’s race, women’s race, keiki’s [children] race, and the elite race. All of the races will be run at separate times. “The race course is designed to maximize spectator potential while creating an exciting environment for swimmers of all levels.

The men’s and women’s race will be a 1-mile swim for ages 15 and up. The course will be set up with two 1/2-mile loops that include a 20-yard run on the beach between each loop. Racers will be sent out in waves with the oldest swimmers starting first, and the remaining age groups sent in waves following all the way to the youngest competitors. Awards will be given to the first 10 swimmers to cross the finish the line regardless of age. Swimmers will also be able to receive their own individual time for the mile race. Spectators will be able watch the race unfold on the wall at the Kapahulu Groin or sit on the beach and enjoy seeing the competitors at the start, the halfway point, and the finish.

The keiki race will be a half-mile swim for ages 14 and under. The race will be set up with two 1/4-mile loops that include a 20-yard run on the beach between each loop. The youngest swimmers will be sent in the first wave with the remaining age groups sent from youngest to oldest. The first 10 swimmers to cross the finish line will win awards.

The elite race will be a 2-mile swim. The course will be set up with four 1/2-mile loops that include a 20-yard run on the beach between each loop. Men and women will race together with the women competitors getting a head start. Awards will be given to the first 5 swimmers to cross the finish line regardless of sex

For more information, visit here.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones