Nearly 250 participants took to the ocean on Thursday. | Credit: Victor Bryant

The Reef and Run summer swim series is back in full swing for its 14th season. 

On Thursday, more than 230 participants charged the water at East Beach for 500-meter, one-kilometer, and one-mile ocean swims. There was also a biathlon, which is only held on select dates.

“Reef and Run is intended to be a community event for the community, so I’ve never raised the prices in 14 years. My goal is for an entire family to participate and for it to be priced reasonably,” said Jane Cairns, who coordinates the event. “I just want to keep it as a safe, accessible community event where people can enjoy themselves.”

The first swimmer out of the water was 17-year-old Isabella Montgomery, who finished the 500 meter in a time of 6:47.

Isabella Montgomery emerges from the water. | Credit: Victor Bryant

Montgomery is from the El Segundo area and traveled north for a swim meet in Ventura with her swim club, Alpha Aquatics. She will be competing through Sunday in the pool. 

“I just decided to do an open-water swim for fun. I really like being here,” Montgomery said. “This is my first time doing the 500 meter. I usually do the 1K.

“It was my goal to get first place and come in around six minutes, which I did.”

In the 1K, Austin Abrams outclassed the competition as he finished more than a minute ahead of second place with a time of 14:55.

Abrams swam freestyle distance races collegiately at Pomona Pitzer after coming up in Santa Barbara swim club and was very comfortable in the water.

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“It felt great,” Abrams said.  “With a wet suit, it was pretty perfect. Without a wetsuit, it would probably be pretty cold.”

In the one-mile swim, former UCSB swimmer Kristof Igloi beat out a group of his friends to narrowly claim first place with a time of 20:23.

“I just like to have a good race with my friends Steven [Hunt] and Jason [Smith], so if it’s a good race, I am a happy guy,” Igloi said. “I just tried to build the whole way. Keenan [Newman] was ahead of me most of the way. I passed him in the last little bit, came around the turn, and finished strong.”

Kristof Igloi catches his breath after crossing the finish line. | Credit: Victor Bryant

Brittany Oliver was the first woman to finish the one-mile swim with a time of 22:16, followed by Joanna Tang, who came in at 22:55.

“I am terrible at sighting, so I was all over the place, but it’s fine because it is beautiful out there,” said Tang, who started doing ocean swims due to COVID-19 pool closures. “My friends dragged me out to experience the ocean during the pandemic, so that’s when I got started.”

The first biathlete to cross the finish line was Kyle Visin, who finished with a time of 29:42.

“You never know who is going to show up, but I’m always trying to win,” Visin said. “For June, this is kind of the best night you can imagine. The water is warm, which is atypical this time of the year.”

Soul Majestic Acoustic | Credit: Victor Bryant

Reef and Run will continue every Thursday through August 25. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. Entry fee is $15, with proceeds going to the junior lifeguards program.

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