Ryan Bullock took the top spot in the 57th annual Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim in 35 minutes and 42 seconds Sunday morning, marking the fourth straight year the 35-year-old has won the event.
“This race means a lot to me,” said Bullock, who was born in Arkansas and now resides in Hermosa Beach. “This was one of the first races I did when I came out (to California), and to be able to come out and compete in my own backyard is a lot of fun for me.” He’s won five times at the race, in total.
All part of the annual International Surf Festival, the race starts at the south side of the Hermosa Beach Pier. Competitors swim out to the end of the pier and finish on the north side of the Manhattan Beach Pier. The distance from pier-to-pier is 1.7 miles.
Bullock noted that the hardest part of the race, to him, is the start.
“Swimming out into the waves with so many people is hard,” Bullock said. “The start is hectic, and I liked where I was at the beginning. I try to stay with the pack and then get some separation about halfway.”
Race Director Gary Crum said the yearly event garnered 1,350 entrants, with 30 states and six different countries being represented.
“The race began in 1963, and the early years had anywhere from thirty to forty swimmers,” Crum said. “We don’t know if we want the race to get much bigger. We want it to be within our safety resources, and manageable.”
Nicholas Jones, 14, took sixth overall, and was the top finisher in the 14-and-under division (38:21).
Participating for the third year, Jones enjoys the annual event for its camaraderie.
“I get to swim with a lot of my friends, and I really enjoy that,” the San Pedro resident said. “I’m out there trying to do my best and catch the guy in front of me.”
El Segundo’s Kelsey Cummings was the top female finisher for the second consecutive year, posting a 38:27 finish that was good for seventh overall. She claimed a 41:41 finish in 2018.
“The hardest part for me is when I get halfway and just trying to hang on until the end,” the 26-year-old Cummings said. “Knowing the finish line is near helps me push through. It’s so beautiful being in the ocean, and I always hope there is a wave at the end.”
Cummings, who works as an L.A. County Lifeguard’s Central Section, said Sunday’s event is the longest race she has competed in. 2019 was her fifth year competing.
“My training consists of swimming and staying in shape over the summer,” Cummings said. “You also have to mentally prepare for it, too.”
Alex Kostich took second place overall, finishing in 36:59. In 2018, the Los Angeles resident earned a 41:18 finish. West Hollywood’s Markus Rogan earned third place overall, finishing in 38 minutes.
A former L.A. County Lifeguard Section Chief, Crum said the race named after his father shows the dedication for all involved.
“Physical fitness on the beach is a great way to stay alive and enjoy your life and be healthy,” Crum said. “The fact that we can have that many people doing an event of this length is a challenge and a credit to the athletes who can do it.”