Dozens Swim Across Chilly Puget Sound For Worthy Local Cause

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On Saturday morning (Aug. 14), 41 brave swimmers donned wetsuits and bathing caps, then slowly waded out into the chilly Puget Sound from Des Moines Beach Park, where they then swam 2.3 miles to Point Robinson on Maury Island for the annual Brent Rice Memorial Swim of the Sound fundraiser.

According to boat safety patrol driver Del Rivera, the water temperature was 52.6 degrees, the first swimmer made it across in one hour, and the slowest took two hours and fifteen minutes. Five swimmers were pulled out due to rough water conditions, the first time ever in the four-year history of the event.

The swim was started in 2006 by 17-year old Justin Moser, who wanted to honor his friend and mentor Brent Rice, who passed away just over five years ago in a car accident. Brent Rice, a local swimmer, once did the swim himself as a personal challenge from one of his brothers. He was an All-American at Mt. Rainier High School and Whitworth College in Spokane.

The funds raised by this year’s sponsors, fees and donations will go towards the Brent Rice Memorial Scholarship Fund which will help low-income families afford swim lessons. The funds will also help promote water safety to children, teens and adults in the Puget Sound area.

Today’s swim was run by volunteers, lifeguards, the Des Moines Fire Department, South King Fire and Rescue, Burien Fire Department, Brown’s Point Rescue and the US Coast Guard.

It’s quite a spectacle to watch these swimmers as they slowly wade out to their chests into the cold waters from Des Moines, then suddenly appear to grow in height as they reach a sand bar about 200 feet offshore. Once immersed up to their necks, arms start flapping, water splashing and they’re off.

Here’s our first set of photos of the event; we’ll post more over the next few days, along with times and total funds raised, so be sure to check back soon. Also, if you swam in the event and want to see if we took a photo of you, check back in 2-3 days for a link to a Flickr page with pics you can download for free.

Photos of the event start, shot by Scott Schaefer:

Event swim and finish, shot by Gene Achziger:

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