Just keep swimming

HB Independent

Maybe there is something that can stop Tegze Haraszti from competing in the annual Huntington Beach Pier Swim.

But nothing's done the trick so far.

Haraszti, who hails from Hungary but goes by the decidedly American name Tex, has participated in the half-mile contest every year since the early 1970s. Along the way, he's swum while sick, recovering from back and shoulder surgery, even partly paralyzed on one side.

On Saturday, the 68-year-old Newport Beach resident plans to hit the water again for the swim around the Huntington Beach Pier. And he expects to add another trophy to his collection at home — especially since the city added a category this year for 65 and older.

"I think the city was very nice to me," said Haraszti, who toughed it out the last few years against men more than a decade his junior. "They created a new age group, so I have a chance of winning."

The Pier Swim, which lures between 300 and 400 contestants in a typical year, awards first-, second- and third-place trophies to men and women in 13 age divisions. The Gene Belshe Memorial Perpetual Trophy, named after the man who founded the event, goes to the team every year with the most winning entries.

Dottie Hughes, the city's recreation supervisor, said the Pier Swim regularly draws a big audience.

"We probably have at least one spectator on the beach for every person we have in the water," she said. "We do tend to get a big group of people."

One who brings a crowd to the event every year is Mark Johnson, a swimming coach from the Cerritos Aquatic Club. His group, which typically numbers between 15 and 25, hasn't won the team trophy yet, but he's coached individual winners over the years.

"We bring about a dozen new kids every year, but a lot of the people who did it 20, 25 years ago are still with it," Johnson said.

If You Go What: 60th annual Pier SwimWhere: Huntington Beach PierWhen: Coaches and contestants report 8:30 a.m. Saturday; Men's, Women's, Senior Men's and Senior Women's divisions at 8:45 a.m.; Masters through Ultra Masters divisions at 9:30 a.m.; Juniors Division at 10:15 a.m.Registration: Late entries accepted from 8 to 8:30 a.m. on the beach; $15Information: (714) 536-5486

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