Swimmer wins one-mile and Gatorman at 70th La Jolla Rough Water Swim

Some of the 2,100 swimmers get ready to hit the water at La Jolla Cove in San Diego  Credit: Sandy Burgin/Active
LA JOLLA, Calif. Alex Kostich of Burbank works as a creative advertising manager at Warner Brothers dealing with feature movies.

On Sunday, the 30-year-old Kostich used a lot of his creative magic in a double-feature, winning the Masters mens mile and the Gatorman three-mile at the 70th La Jolla Rough Water Swim.

Less than an hour after capturing the mens Masters Classic in a record time of 17:55.2, Kostich, a former Stanford All-American, was back in the water at La Jolla Cove and won the Gatorman Championship, edging out last years winner Tim Martin, 22, of La Palma in yet another record time of 54:35.3.

Vicky West, 18, of Redlands, who is beginning her freshman year at Northwestern this week, won her second straight Gatorman womens title, covering the three-mile course in 1:01:58.6. Karen Dehmel, 33, of San Diego (1:02.01.2) and Christine Jeffrey, 27, of Tempe, Ariz. (1:03:12.1) were second and third.

Martin, who set the record (55:25.3) in the Gatorman last year, didnt compete in the Masters mens mile on Sunday. And he did set the early pace in the three-mile event out to the Scripps Pier and was leading at the final half-mile toward La Jolla Cove. However, Martin took a circuitous route to the finish line and Kostich was able to gain ground and garner $1,000 for winning both events. Martins time was 54:48.

He (Martin) went wide down the stretch and I came in straight, Kostich said. The shortest distance between two points is still a straight line. I knew if I could hang with him, I could psych him out. Hes a young guy who might go out a little harder and not have enough coming back home.

Ive been around the block for a while, Kostich added, so I know that if you stick with it, in the last part of the race when it gets most painful, if you have more speed thats when you can make or break somebody. I figured if I could hang with him til the end maybe I would have more speed and more of a mental advantage.

Low-tide swimming conditions were excellent with calm, 67-degree water and an air temperature near 80.

It was sunny so it was easy to navigate, Kostich said. But it was kind of choppy toward the pier like it was last year. And there was actually a lot of kelp coming. It was like you were falling over all this seaweed and stuff and it was exhausting going against the current. But it all worked out well.

Kostich is one of the top masters swimmers in the world and currently holds several world record in the 25 - 29 age group. He also is recognizable from his features in The Victor catalog for swim gear.

He has been swimming nearly his entire life.

My father threw me in the water before I could walk, Kostich said. My parents were both swimmers. And my father (George) was actually an open-water swimmer back in Yugoslavia.

Kostich grew up in Belmont, Mass., and trained with the Harvard University swim team before he went to Stanford.

While Kostich saved his best for last, Vicky West used a strong start to get ahead and stay ahead in the womens Gatorman race.

I wanted to get away fast at the start, West said. The past couple of years Ive gotten stuck behind a crowd of people because we all were rushing for the same space of water. There are 500 people trying to get in the same area, but I was able to get out fast this year and it helped a lot.

West said she didnt feel any extra outside pressure as the defending champion.

The only pressure was coming from me, West said. I wanted to come back here and try to win again.

In some of the other more notable performances, Carolyn Gorrick, 19, of San Diego won the Womens Masters mile in 20:02.6; La Jolla High standout Aram Kevorkian, 17, won the Mens Amateur mile (17:51.8); and Emily Mason of Phoenix won the Womens Amateur mile (19:45).

Ben Weston of La Jolla finished second to Kostich in the Master mens mile (18:34.2) and third in his age group in the Gatorman Championship. Weston, 19, is a sophomore at UC Santa Cruz.

The event drew approximately 2,100 participants with 9,000 spectators.


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