Robert Loreto of Solana Beach trains only a week ahead of time for the annual Swim24 Challenge with the goal of “survival, making sure I get to each end.”
Qualcomm teammate Grace “Gracie” van der Byl put her 6-month-old daughter in her husband Neil’s arms and swam an hour Saturday night — nothing compared with her world-record 7 hours, 27 minutes crossing from Catalina island to the mainland in 2012.
Or her goal of tackling the English Channel. “The minute she’s old enough, I’m taking her with me,” said van der Byl, 39.
Different strokes for different folks.
With a DJ playing songs like “Smoke on the Water,” the Canyonview Aquatics Complex at UC San Diego was rocking from noon Saturday to noon Sunday for the fourth annual fundraiser to benefit Waterproofing San Diego.
Making cameo appearances under the lights were Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and San Diego’s chief lifeguard, Rick Wurts.
“She swam for over a half-hour” a little after midnight, said McClelland, a former city lifeguard who quit counting after making 1,000 rescues. “Chief Wurts swam for just under an hour.”
But getting credit for every 50-yard lap of the 25-yard wide pool was Elizabeth Schlicher, who nearly doubled the mileage of the No. 2 swimmer. The ocean swimming champion covered 614 laps, or nearly 17.5 miles. She spent 7 1/2 hours in the water, divided among three teams.
Swimmers in 12-member teams had to raise at least $100 each, “about what it takes to teach a child to swim,” McClelland said, noting that 2,500 kids went through the program this summer at city pools, YMCAs and Barrio Station.
The focus is on inner-city underserved kids, he said. “It’s all about drowning prevention. … Drowning is the leading cause of death in the United States for kids 1-4” and No. 2 cause for kids 4-14.
At the weekend relay challenge, the youngest were 5 and 6. Masters swimmers (including adults well past Medicare age) took part as well.
All told, swimmers tracked by the phone app over the weekend went 29,867 laps, or 848 miles. Top team was Bay City Swimmers, with 2,079 laps (59 miles).
In its fourth year, the Swim24 Challenge fell short of last year’s 32,860 laps or the record 33,356 laps (947 miles) set in 2014.
“We definitely need to do more marketing earlier,” said foundation CEO McClelland. “We’d like to target more of the schools to get them out.”
Even though all 20 lanes were in use at one of the complex’s two pools, “we can put two teams per lane as well,” he said.
But at least this year, he said, nobody set the sprinklers to work after midnight, when many swimmers take breaks in a couple dozen tents set up on the grassy area near the main pool.
Swimmer Loreto does his part for the challenge because “I have two kids myself” — a son 14 and daughter 11, who both can swim. “I thought: What a great event.” The 47-year-old logged 62 laps (about 1.7 miles).
Qualcomm’s senior director of IT was part of the Qualcomm Pirates team, one of three the tech giant fielded over the weekend.
Van der Byl, whose husband, Neil, works at Qualcomm, also coaches the renowned Rancho San Dieguito Boys and and Girls Club Swim Team.
She supports any cause that helps kids learn how to swim, she said. “Waterproofing San Diego is super near and dear to my heart.”
Swimmers cross paths many times in separated lanes at the Swim24 Challenge. Photo by Chris Stone
Laura Daly of Pacific Beach covered 89 laps in just over 2 hours for her team, SplashBucs 2017. Photo by Chris Stone
Ethan Sanders of La Jolla Country Day School paddled his way to some of his 86 laps. Photo by Chris Stone
A breaststroker takes a deep breath during lap of the Swim24 Challenge. Photo by Chris Stone
A GoPro underwater shot captured a swimmer midstroke during Swim24 Challenge. Photo by Chris Stone
Open-water swim great Grace van der Byl spent an hour in the water Saturday night. Photo by Chris Stone
Grace van der Byl heads underwater after the halfway point of a 50-yard lap. Photo by Chris Stone
Michelle Tice of the Anything Goes for Drowning Prevention 2017 team logged 78 laps over 1 hour, 21 minutes. Photo by Chris Stone
Tens of thousands of breaths were taken by the more than 230 swimmers. Photo by Chris Stone
A slow shutter speed captures a painterly scene at the Swim24 Challenge. Photo by Chris Stone
Robert Loreto of the Qualcomm Pirates team uses backstroke, but didn’t fall asleep during his 64 laps over 78 minutes. Photo by Chris Stone
Teammates use phone app to track laps of the swimmer before them. Photo by Chris Stone
West of the swim complex, tents afforded swimmers a chance to rest during the long day. Photo by Chris Stone
A couch at south end of pool was home to some fierce swimmers having fun. Photo by Chris Stone
All teams used a smartphone app to track laps — info shared by all swimmers. Photo by Chris Stone
Some swimmers had crocodile aid (with brave adults). Photo by Chris Stone
Swimmers from La Jolla Country Day School knew which shifts they would take. Daniel Hotson completed 362 laps (10.3 miles). Photo by Chris Stone
Grace “Gracie” van der Byl, the fastest to cross from Catalina to the mainland, swam with a Qualcomm team. Photo by Chris Stone
Many took the laps seriously, including local high schools and masters swim clubs. Photo by Chris Stone
Floaties were fine for swimmers, including some as young as 5. Photo by Chris Stone
All 20 lanes of the Canyonview Aquatics Complex were in use Saturday and Sunday. Photo by Chris Stone
Organizers said clouds came out about 3 p.m. after a sunny start Saturday, leading to beach-towel temperatures. Photo by Chris Stone
This was the fourth year for the drowning-prevention fund-raiser. Photo by Chris Stone
Breaststroker comes up for air during the Swim24 Challenge. Photo by Chris Stone
Swimmers at the 2017 challenge logged 29,869 laps (not counting cameos). Photo by Chris Stone
Tents (at right) also hosted silent auctions to help with fund-raising. Photo by Chris Stone
A DJ (on the right) kept swimmers entertained all day and night. Photo by Chris Stone
Some relaxed with the backstroke to pass the time. All told, nearly 500 hours was spent in the water. Photo by Chris Stone
Masters swimmers celebrated the event like a 24-hour party. Photo by Chris Stone
Under bright lights, teams with names like Puddle Pirates and Chlorine Daydreams took their laps. Photo by Chris Stone
Tents along the east side of the pool were sanctuaries for team members, and 230-plus swimmers. Photo by Chris Stone
Clocks on both ends of the UCSD pool gave swimmers an idea on when to start their turns. Photo by Chris Stone
Snacks helped field Mission Bay High School swimmers. A taco bar (suggested donation $5) also served meals. Photo by Chris Stone
UC San Diego supplied lifeguards for the Swim 24 Challenge, but no rescues were needed. Photo by Chris Stone
Teams of 12 swimmers each swam from noon Saturday to noon Sunday to raise money for drowning-prevention efforts. Photo by Chris Stone
Floats and other swimming aids were allowed at the Swim24 Challenge at UC San Diego’s Canyonview Aquatics Complex. Photo by Chris Stone
Corey McClelland, CEO of the Drowning Prevention Program of San Diego, shows off one of its initiatives — bands that encourage people to designate a lifeguard at pool parties. Photo by Ken Stone
Krista Neville of Santee (left) and Martha Ornelas of Rancho Penasquitos use inflatable lounge chair in campground during their rest period. Photo by Chris Stone