South Redondo Beach coastline

The South Redondo Beach coastline is perfect for an Olympic open water swimming event, say city officials, who are bringing an international event to the city on Oct. 4 and 5, 2019. The coast is protected by the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the natural slope of the Esplanade makes for great viewing, according to officials. (Photo by Lisa Jacobs)

Redondo Beach will host an international swimming event in October, drawing more than 1,000 competitors from at least 20 countries. City officials hope the event could serve as a precursor to drawing the open water swimming competition in the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The two-day event, part of the World Open Water Swimming Association, will take place October 4 and 5 off the avenues in south Redondo Beach, said Steve Munatones, the association’s founder.

Day one will include a symposium on oceans and marine life. Day two will be race-day, with multiple contests of varying distances, including 100-meter, 200-meter, 1,000-meter, 2.5-kilometer and 10-kilometer races.

“If you look at Southern California from the perspective of the ocean,” Munatones said this week, “that Redondo coast is spectacular along the way to Palos Verdes.

“People who swim in the ocean,” he added, “know that.”

Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand met earlier this month with Munatones and Bryce Elser, the open water program manager for USA Swimming.

Brand said he hoped Redondo Beach still has the opportunity to host the open water swimming event when the Olympics comes to Los Angeles in 2028 — an ambition he first made public in January 2018. The event is currently slated for Long Beach.

“When I heard (the open water swimming event) was going to be in Long Beach, I said, ‘You must be kidding me,’” Brand said. “There couldn’t be a worse place to have it.”

Brand, though, added he understood the infrastructure and security considerations for choosing Long Beach.

But he also said that Redondo’s waters are better-suited for the event.

“When it’s all said and done,” Brand said, “and the entire swim industry sees the difference between what’s supposed to be an open water swim in Long Beach versus off of Redondo and Palos Verdes, it will be quite clear they need to have it here.”

Officials from Long Beach could not immediately be reached.

City Councilmember Nils Nehrenheim, who said he has competed in the Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim in the South Bay since he was 6 years old, said having Redondo as a venue for open water swimming had many advantages.

The curvature of the south end of Santa Monica Bay, partially protected by the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and the raised elevation of the Esplanade were all key factors, Nehrenheim said.

“I’ve always said it’s an awesome venue,” Nehrenheim said, “and we should be having these swims here.” 

On July 14, the city will host its second annual Swim the Avenues open water swim, which includes a 1-mile and 1/2 mile course.

“It really highlights our fantastic location,” Nehrenheim said. “You can’t really get better than this. You have a natural stage. Compared to Long Beach, people will naturally say, ‘This place is awesome, let’s do it here.’ There won’t even be a discussion.”

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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