NATIONAL NEWS

Former Olympic champion and college All-American win swim around Florida’s Alligator Reef Lighthouse

Sep 9, 2023, 2:04 PM

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, a swimmer escorted by a kayaker, competes in the Swim for Alligator Lighthouse open-water challenge Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, off Islamorada, Fla., in the Florida Keys. The 8-mile roundtrip race attracted almost 400 swimmers divided into categories including solo and two-, three- and four-person relay teams. The annual event helps raise funds to restore Alligator Reef Lighthouse, one of six aging Florida Keys lighthouses, that are some 150 years old and no longer needed for navigation. The beacon is named for the USS Alligator, a U.S. Navy schooner that ran aground and sank on the reef in 1822. (Bob Care/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Bob Care/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

ISLAMORADA, Fla. (AP) — A three-time Olympic gold medalist and a former college All-American won top honors Saturday at an annual 8-mile (13-kilometer) ocean swim around the Alligator Reef Lighthouse off the Florida Keys.

Olympian Brooke Bennett, 43, of Clearwater, was the top female swimmer, finishing second overall behind Connor Signorin, a former All-American at the University of Florida who lives in Tampa. While both excelled at competing in pools, the swim around the 150-year-old lighthouse presented a different challenge.

“You’re here amongst the sea life and this is your natural form of swimming — this isn’t pool swimming, this is as natural as it gets … beautiful,” said Signorin, 31, after finishing the race in 2 hours, 59 minutes, 44 seconds.

About 400 people participated in the race that raised money and awareness of the need to preserve the historic lighthouse and five other aging beacons off the Florida Keys.

The lighthouse was named for the U.S. Navy Schooner Alligator that grounded on the reef in 1822. Equipment was stripped from the vessel before it was blown up to prevent it from being used by pirates.

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Online: Swim for Alligator Lighthouse: https://www.swimalligatorlight.com

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Former Olympic champion and college All-American win swim around Florida’s Alligator Reef Lighthouse