Marathon Swimmers Taking the Plunge Once Again

By Kosoy, Brian | The Florida Times Union, July 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

Marathon Swimmers Taking the Plunge Once Again


Kosoy, Brian, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Brian Kosoy

From ocean swimmers to Olympic soccer players, the Beaches have action to report from a wide array of athletes this week. Here are this week's top performers and events:

- Swim time: The Meninak Club of Jacksonville will hold its 75th annual Ocean Marathon Swim this morning. The 3.5-mile swim, which is open to past and present lifeguards, will begin at 10 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and end at the lifeguard station at the foot of Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville Beach. Depending on the ocean current, the course could be reversed. The swim honors and recognizes the service provided by the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps at Jacksonville Beach.

About 70 participants are expected to compete in the race, during which former lifeguard captain Sean O'Brien is expected to earn the event record for most consecutive swims.

The Meninak Club of Jacksonville, a public service organization founded in 1919, consists of 230 Jacksonville business and civic leaders who raise funds and awareness for various groups and individuals in need. For more information, visit www.meninak.org or call the Meninak Club at 745-3393.

The Hammerhead triathlon club is looking for swimmers of all ages to take part in its third annual ocean marathon swim. The Hammerhead Ocean Marathon is slated for 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, and will feature a 1.25-mile swim and a 2.5-mile swim. Both races will start and finish at Fifth Avenue North at the pier in Jacksonville Beach. Overall male and female winners of both races will receive $100 certificates for custom swimsuits from Splishwear.com. All swimmers must wear swim caps for the race, and no swim aids such as fins or paddleboards will be permitted. Registration cost is $25 for the 1.25-mile swim and $35 for the 2.5-mile swim. To register, go to www.hammer headtriathlonclub.com or call Chrissy Wallis at 591-0451 for more information.

- Selected, then injured: St. Augustine native Nathan Sturgis, a former Nease High School standout, was selected to the U.S. men's soccer team that will compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics next month in Beijing. However, Sturgis has a right hamstring injury and was replaced on the team on Wednesday by Dax McCarty of Winter Park, who plays for Major League Soccer's FC Dallas.

Sturgis, who plays professionally for MLS' Real Salt Lake, was one of five defenders named to the team by head coach Peter Nowak on July 17.

Sturgis, who turned 21 this month, was one of four defenders on the team who were part of the team's qualifying campaign. Eighteen players were selected for the Olympic team.

The team began their final preparation for the Beijing Olympics Sunday with six days of domestic training in San Jose, Calif. The team will depart this weekend for Hong Kong, where they will participate in the ING Cup, facing fellow Olympic participants Ivory Coast on July 30 and Cameroon on Aug. 2.

The U.S. has been drawn into a difficult Group B and will open against Japan on Aug. 7 and the Netherlands on Aug. 10 at the Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Tianjin. The team will then travel to Worker's Stadium in Beijing to conclude group play against 1996 gold medalist and 2005 Under-20 World Cup champion Nigeria on Aug. 13.

Sturgis led Nease to Class 4A state title game as a sophomore in 2003 before participating in the Olympic development program. He played two years for Clemson University, leading the Tigers to an appearance in the College Cup Final Four in 2005. In 2006, he was drafted 12th overall by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS SuperDraft.

Sturgis' younger brother, Caleb, is a freshman at the University Florida, where he is expected to be the Gators' starting kicker this season

- Rugby report: The Jacksonville Axemen rugby team will face its toughest test of the season tonight when they square off against the unbeaten New Haven Warriors at 5 p. …

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