Island Beach Two-Mile Swim Soria, Dowling capture titles
GREENWICH — Inclement weather resulted in the cancellation of last year’s Island Beach Two-Mile Swim, but the weather, though certainly not perfect, was good enough for Saturday’s race to take place.
And that meant the tradition was back on.
While many caught up on their sleep early Saturday morning, a little more than 70 swimmers tested their skills in the waters of the Long Island Sound in one of Greenwich’s oldest and most storied athletic events.
Rain and choppy waters didn’t prevent the early-morning athletes from swimming solid times at the Island Beach Two-Mile Swim, which was organized by the Greenwich Swim Committee and saw a number of swimmers garner trophies.
Erik Soria, a resident of Bermuda who paid a visit to Greenwich, was the race’s overall winner, registering a time of 43 minutes, 13 seconds. Greenwich resident Jessica Dowling finished second overall in the swim with a time of 44:31 and was the women’s champion.
Ed Hagerty (New York, N.Y.) finished third overall in 44:15, while Hannah Rauch from Buffalo, N.Y., placed fourth, clocking in at 46:45.
“I did this seven or eight years ago and I was glad we were able to eke out this race today with the weather,” the 37-year-old Soria said. “I grew up in Stamford and swam with Jessica (Dowling) back in the day with the Westport Water Rats and we trained with the Greenwich Dolphins, so this was like going down memory lane. It was awesome to swim and compete.”
Soria has resided in Bermuda, where he has competed in a lot of ocean swims, the past four years.
“It’s awesome to swim and compete and it’s great to come home, visit some friends and get a swim in,” Soria said.
Dowling, 41, has excelled in the Island Beach Two-Mile Swim and Greenwich Point One-Mile Swim for the past decade. She posted a second-place finish at the Greenwich Point One-Mile Swim last month, recording a time of 16:56. The Greenwich resident was pleased with her performance on Saturday.
“The water temperature was great, I didn’t run into any jelly fish and I could see the whole time,” said Dowling, who competed on the women’s swim team at the University of Georgia and was the Island Beach Two-Mile Swim overall winner several years ago. “The first time I did it was in the early 2000’s and I’ve tried to compete in it every summer. This was one of my better races. I am really appreciative of the Greenwich Swim Committee for organizing the race.”
Rauch, 21, is a rising senior at Bentley University, where she will captain the school’s women’s swim squad this fall. She also took part in the Greenwich Point One-Mile Swim in July, placing third overall (17:34), while winning her age group.
“Today’s race was definitely the choppiest waters I ever swam in,” Rauch said. “But once it started raining, it calmed down a lot and coming back, it was really fast and really smooth. There were great swimmers out there and I had a great time.”
Working as an intern in the area over the summer gave Rauch the opportunity to swim in open water events such as Saturday’s race.
“It’s a good challenge,” Rauch said. “The water is choppier than being in a pool and it’s a different atmosphere, since you’re beginning the race with a bunch of people, instead of your own lane. I hope to stick with it after college.”
Hagerty, 34, also enjoyed the dynamic open water swimming offers.
“It’s great that they have this event, you swim out, swim back, it’s a great race,” Hagerty said. “I am more of a pool-trained swimmer, so it was challenging, since the current effects where you are going. It’s nice to be out there with a whole bunch of people in the water, some of whom you know as well.”
Trophies were presented to each age-group winner. Caroline Webb of Greenwich was the 19-and-under female division champion, finishing the race in 53:33.
“I really enjoy open water more than a pool,” said Webb, a rising Greenwich High School senior, who swims for the Greenwich YWCA Dolphins. “Swimming in open water is more relaxing to me, I feel it’s not as stressful to get a certain time. It was wavier than I expected, but you get used to it. The current the way back was definitely easier.”
Rauch won her 20-24 year-old female division and Chelsea Frengs was the 25-29 year-old female winner. Other women’s age-group winners included Jen Schumacher (30-34 year-old division, 49:49), Angela Ruane (35-39, 55:27), Dowling (40-44 year-old), Kate Tiedermann (45-49 year-old, 54:36), Lisa Dominici (50-54 year-old, 69:00), Carrie Dillon (55-59, 63:04) and Cindy Thornton (60-64, 55:01).
The men’s age-group winners included: Brian Franco (25-29 year-old, 72:48), Hagerty (30-34 year-old), Soria (35-39 year-old), Samuel Goichman (40-44, 51:47), Michael Buckley (45-49, 69:39), Joseph Kaufman (50-54, 51:29), Arthur Ganzi (55-59, 49:39), Peter Carlson (60-64, 64:12), Kenneth Conover (65-69, 76:41) and Andrew Coleman (70-and-over, 68:12).
The Elliott Schofield Trophy was presented to Soria in honor of the late Schofield, who swam in the race for many years and also directed it for numerous years. He passed away in 2010. Schofield’s father, Dr. Earle Schofield, began the Island Beach Two-Mile Swim in 1931. His son, Earle Jr., won the race the first four years and Elliott finished first in 1937, 1938 and 1939. The Schofield family donated the Schofield Trophy and awards.
“This event is a lot of the swimmers’ favorite,” Greenwich Swim Committee chairman Jon Harnett said. “It’s a fun race and it has been a great tradition in town that the competitors look forward to.”