Five family members take to the briny deep at the La Jolla Rough Water Swim

Swimmers charge into the water at the La Jolla Rough Water Swim  Credit: Sandy Burgin/
LA JOLLA, Calif. If you were a friend, relative or just a fan of anyone named Weston on Sunday, you probably spent the entire day at La Jolla Cove watching the 70th annual La Jolla Rough Water Swim.

No less than five members of the Weston family of La Jolla took part in the oldest continual swimming competition in the country.

Ben Weston, a 19-year-old sophomore at UC Santa Cruz, completed a rare double, swimming in the Masters Mens mile and the three-mile Gatorman.

Weston was second overall in the mile and first in his age group. Less than an hour after finishing that race, he was back in the water and garnered a third-place finish for his age group in the three-mile Gatorman.

I had never done the three-mile since they installed that race in 1993, said Weston, the youngest of the Weston clan. It was a challenge and something that Ive wanted to do for a long time.

My dad has been doing the Rough Water Swim for 25 years, said Ben Weston. This is my 10th time and I just want to keep the family tradition going.

On Sunday the Weston family was certainly in the swim of things as Bens father Robert finished 12th in the 50 - 55-year-old age group in the mile in 26 minutes; Bens mother Susan was 29th in her age group while sister Eve, 21, and Leah, 17, were 24th and 25th in their respective age groups for the Masters Womens mile.

Ben Weston competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis last month.

I was 58th, Weston said. But it was a great experience and I was just so happy to go.

Ben has been swimming since he was 5, as have his sisters. Eve played two years of water polo at Princeton while Leah is swimming for La Jolla High School.

Its a great event and a great time to have a family reunion, said Dr. Robert Weston. Everyone comes back home from whatever theyve been doing in the summer to swim in this race.

If they get into town early in the weekend, we like to train together, Robert Weston said. I try to swim out to the mile buoy every day. And my wife Susan swims regularly with the UC San Diego Masters swim program.

It was at the Rough Water Swim that my wife and I met, Weston said. We were both competing, and swimming certainly is a big part of our lives.

For the historical record, the La Jolla Rough Water Swim started in the summer of 1916. The event came to life in the final days prior to World War I, as San Diego was home to the Worlds Fair Pan American Exposition. The World Fair Committee asked each community to play host to a special event to showcase the city. With the water of the Pacific Ocean here, La Jollans came together to hold an ocean swim.

In 1931 the Rough Water Swim became an annual event held every year thereafter except in 1935, when sponsorship supported the San Diego Exposition of that year, and in 1948 when concerns of polio forced cancellation.

The last cancellation of the event came in 1959 when unusual shark sightings were reported.

On that day one of the swim organizers, local businessman Douglas McKeller, in a display of confidence, unofficially entered the water at the appointed time and swam the course. Fortunately, no sharks were sighted.

Discuss This Article