7th Annual Fire Island Ocean Swim National Championship

By Kirsten Corssen // Photos by Robert ShermanThe sun was shining on Saturday morning, July 7, with the ferry filled to the brim with smiling faces full of excitement. Not just because of the beautiful day ahead, but also for the 7th Annual Fire Island Ocean Swim. Hosted by Bryan and Sandra Krut of Open Water Swim (OWS) LLC, this year for the first time the swim was selected as a 5K National Championship dual sanctioned event by United States Masters Swimming (USMS) and USA-Swimming (USA-S), making this favorite Fire Island event that much more special.The National Championship is awarded by USMS via a bidding process that is reviewed and awarded two years prior to the event date. USMS advertises the swim to more than 60,000 of their members nationwide, recognizes overall race winners as National Champions, and those placing first in their age groups are recognized as All American Swimmers.Before the swimmers ran off into the water I caught up with Don Livoni who was swimming the 5K and is also the vice president of programs for the USMS. Livoni had been to the race three years before and loved every second of it. When it came time to pick a bidder to host the 5K National Championship, he was rooting for the Kruts and the Fire Island Swim. He was delighted to know that Bryan had won the bid for the race and was excited to attend. “The Kruts do an amazing job for this race and their team is outstanding,” Livoni said.Livoni, along with the rest of the swimmers, suited up and went to the starting line. This year’s distances included the USMS 5K Wetsuit Division and 1-mile distance as well as a USA-Swimming 400 meter (10 years of age and under) and 1-mile distance (11-17 years of age).As they headed off into the water, the swimmers realized this swim was a little different than years’ past. The water temperature on this warm July day was only 64 degrees, which is very unusual for this time of year. Cold water temperatures made it a lot harder than usual, and some people had to get out of the water early. It was a busy day for the lifeguards that’s for sure!“This year’s swim was by far the most challenging swim we have hosted in the last seven years! We had a northeast wind come in on Friday, which brought cold waters, and a nice sweep and waves,” stated Bryan Krut, owner of OWS and nationally ranked lifeguard, long distance swimmer and all American. “The weather was absolutely beautiful! Our swimmers were definitely challenged and those that finished were totally pumped. Even many of the DNF (did not finish) seemed pleased with their overall accomplishment, and they should be!“Our approved safety plan was quite robust and the rescue teams did an incredible job following it 100 percent and ensuring our swimmers were safe. In the end, thanks to the Town of Islip, our very talented Fire Island Ocean Rescue team made up of certified and nationally ranked ocean lifeguards, Ocean Beach Fire Department and EMTs from Ocean Beach, Fair Harbor and Saltaire, everyone was accounted for and received assistance if they required it.”Although the water was cold, the swimmers were in there for a good reason. The Fire Island Ocean Swim raises money for Hospice Care Network’s Children and Family Bereavement Program thanks to their swimmers and sponsors, such as Northwell Health Southside Hospital Orthopaedic Institute, Banfi Vintners, Maguire’s Bayfront Restaurant, and the Bay Shore Lion’s Club, among others. The swim raised approximately $10,000 this year, totaling about $50,000 over the past seven years. Without the sponsors, volunteers and swimmers, they could not put on this fantastic swim event and the ocean swim team is so thankful to give back to the community while raising awareness of the sport of swimming!On behalf of the Fire Island Ocean Swim, Fire Island News, volunteers and sponsors we would like to congratulate the overall 1st place winner and National Champion, Ricardo Valdivia, coming in at 1:07:56.3; and Laurie Hug, the overall Female 1st place National Champion, at 1:23:02.2.Overall, it was an incredible event, and possibly one of the most challenging swims in the country. Every swimmer should be extremely proud of their accomplishments. We are all proud of them!For full swim results visit www.openwaterswimli. com/events/fire-island-ocean-swim.