Jim Arnold, the Montauk Swim Challenge’s race director, said Monday that he expects as many as 200 long-distance swimmers, from as far away as the Bahamas and the West Coast, will take part in this Saturday’s event, from which the Montauk Playhouse Community Center’s aquatics center fund is to benefit.
Arnold is anticipating a large turnout in part because “we’re on the U.S. masters swimming calendar. . . . Rod McClave [the perennial winner] may have some competition this year. That’s what we’re hoping.”
Lori King, a two-time defending champion, an Amagansett summer resident who’s in training for the 22.5-mile Catalina channel crossing next month (and who’s looking for more sponsorship), is expected to return. She was sixth over all last year.
The Swim Challenge offers participants choices from among three distances — a half-mile, a mile, and, for the first time, a 5K (in the past, the longest of the races has been a 2-miler).
“We’ll start everything from Ditch Plain this year,” said Arnold. “The 5K, the first to get under way, at 6:30, will be a loop, a mile and a half to the Atlantic Terrace Motel, where they’ll turn around and head back to Ditch.”
The milers, he said, would begin at 7:30, and the half-mile at 8. “The milers will walk a mile down the beach where they’ll jump in and swim back. The half-milers will walk a half-mile down.”
“All [East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad] hands will be on deck — about 60 of us,” he added, in order to assure that the swims will be safe. “Our aim to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable.”
The swims will be held, he said, “rain or shine.”
The Playhouse’s aquatics center project would happen one day, he said in answer to a question. “They’re well over halfway there at the moment.”