ISLAMORADA — A three-time Olympic gold medalist and a former college All-American won top honors Saturday at an annual 8-mile 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.