Making a 'Point:' Swift swimmers tackle Compo course for 36th year
Approximately 130 competitive swimmers made a big splash Sunday morning.
The Westport Weston Family Y's 36th annual Point-to-Point Compo Beach Swim saw a field of aquatic athletes tackle the mile-long course off the east beach.
"This is one of the great events and traditions in Westport," said First Selectman Jim Marpe, "and one of the things that makes Westport special. Those of you who have been here know that."
Three tiers of competitive swimmers -- advanced, intermediate and beginner -- competed in separate heats under an overcast sky that briefly spritzed the crowd. Despite the somewhat gloomy weather, spirits were high among participants and their supporters.
"This is probably my fourth time," said Diane Benke of Westport, who was among the 60 or so advanced swimmers. "I love it because it's in our backyard and it's one of the things that's special about Westport that we have races like this."
"It's my first time doing the race, but my wife does it every year," said Bennett Dubson of Westport.
"I love this place," he said. "I love the beach. I swim here in the morning in the summer, and it's just a really special way to start the day."
"It's a great event," said Terry Purcell, who came to the event with daughters Addie, 8, and Kerrianne, 7, to watch his wife Kristen compete in the intermediate race.
"We like to come and cheer for mommy," he said.
"It's so neat having people from all over come and do this race," said Nicole Turechek, director of aquatics for the Family Y. "This is the 36th year it's been running, so we must be doing something right."
"The only change that's different is just the manual timing," she said, explaining that functioned more accurately than in previous years.
"Everything else is the same," Turechek said. "A lot of returning faces. A couple of new ones."
One indication of the success of Y's Water Rats program was the performance by Jonathan Blansfield, 17, of Westport, who won the competitive heat for the second year in a row. Heading to Northwestern University this fall, where he'll compete on the swim team, he has been swimming in the Y's program since he was 7 years old.
"I'm just really excited to get out here," said Blansfield, who finished with a time of 17:07 minutes.
"I like to start out kind of relaxed," he said of his strategy. "Everybody's kind of bunched up at first ... By the time you hit the last buoy, you bring it on strong."
The first woman to complete the competitive heat was Danielle Honrath of New York City, who had a time of 18:40. "It was good," she said, "but I had a little bit of cap-and-goggle issues."
The day before, Honrath finished in the Greenwich Point Swim race.
"We appreciate the town allowing us to run this event at Compo Beach," said Rob Reeves, chief executive officer for the Family Y. "We're moving to the new Y, but we'll still be here."