FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida, January 2. THOUGH he had to battle two- to four-foot swells, rip currents, strong winds and a plague of stinging man-of-war jellyfish, 17 year-old Joey Pedraza of Miami emerged from the water yesterday morning off Fort Lauderdale beach exclaiming how much fun swimming in the ocean was compared to early morning pool workouts.
Pedraza beat a strong field of college, high school, Masters and age-group swimmers as well as top-rated triathletes to win the 35th annual International Swimming Hall of Fame/Waterfront Inns Ocean Mile Swim in his first try at open water swimming.
Pedraza, the Florida state high school champion in the 200 and 500 freestyle from St. Thomas Aquinas, won the overall title in 19 minutes and 17 seconds, one of only two swimmers to break 20 minutes.
"You have waves here crashing into you and throwing you all over, it's just fun and different," Pedraza said. "It's much better than swimming back and forth in a pool. Here you just go out and swim as straight as you can while keeping your pace."