Swimmers compete between Crystal and Johnnie

by Tyler Roberts
Thursday, September 15, 2011

Staff photo by Allison Potter

Competitors finish the Pier-2-Pier Swim at Johnnie Mercerís Pier on Saturday, Sept. 10. The 7th annual event was hosted by the Wilmington Family YMCAís Cape Fear Aquatic Club.

On Saturday, Sept. 10, swimmers from across North Carolina rushed into the waves at Crystal Pier for the 7th annual Pier-2-Pier swim.

The swimmers were barely visible from the shore. Splashing arms and legs traced the 2-mile distance to Johnnie Mercerís Pier like an ant trail, one swimmer following another.

After 30 minutes of waiting, the first and second swimmers in the 18 and under division rounded the finish line marker and swam furiously toward the shore. People cheered as they rose from the waves in a dead sprint, vying for the division first place.

Dylan Ludwick was the first to finish the swim. He tore through the shallow water with other competitors close on his heels.

Ludwick is a college freshman swimmer at Davidson College and was able to compete in the 18 and under division. He placed fifth overall in the menís division.

"It was exciting to run in," he said. "You didnít know if there was a wave behind you or what."

Ludwick has competed in open water races on a national level. Those races, he explained, are set up as loops so that swimmers must swim with and against the current.

As the race continued, competitors from the adult division began to filter in with the last of the younger swimmers.

Bryce Mendes, Dan OíConner and Sean Lane took first, second and third in the menís division respectively. University of North Carolina Wilmington swimmer Mike Smiechowski took fourth.

First place in the womenís division went to UNCW sophomore Ashley Smith with an impressive finish at 33 minutes and 45 seconds. She was followed by Kelsey Cummings and London Schumacher. Her teammate, Rachel Wilson, placed fourth.

"It was a really nice swim," Smith said. "It was really clear and the waves were calm."

"And there were no sharks," Wilson interjected.

As for the others who swam for completion, the finish line symbolized a personal achievement.

Holly Konrady, a competitor in the masterís division, said that the "race was amazing" and that it was under the "nicest conditions they have had for this race."

Konrady, who swims often in open waters, said that the light wind and lack of current was not a huge factor in the swim. For those who do not regularly swim in the ocean, however, the gentle current came as a relief.

"The current was a help as a whole," Ludwick said. "I really enjoyed the extra help."

Tales of jelly fish and disorientation seemed to be the most common encounters throughout the race.

Last yearís Pier-2-Pier swim was cancelled due to adverse conditions from Hurricane Igor. This year, swimmers held their breath as Hurricane Katia moved north slowly offshore. Fortunately, the storm passed without effect and left smooth surf and clear skies.

"The race went well," said David Sokolofsky, Wilmington Family YMCA. "It was perfect weather and we made sure that everyone going into the water came out."

An estimated 200 people participated.

For a full list of results, please visit www.setupevents.com

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