Lowcountry Splash sets finisher record

Zach Lierley, 18, of Mount Pleasant, won the 12th annual Lowcountry Splash 2.4-mile race in 40 minutes and three seconds - though had to sprint in after thinking he had already finished and was told he wasn't. David Quick/postandcourier.com

The 12th annual Lowcountry Splash open water swim broke the 500 finisher mark for the first time in its history, thanks to the addition of a new 5-mile swim.

And conditions couldn’t have been better to launch a longer swim, this one starting from the Daniel Island pier on the Wando River and ending where the 2.4-mile swim finishes, at the Patriots Point floating dock in Charleston Harbor.

Swimmers faced no chop, practically no wind, water temperatures at the perfect 78 degree mark and similarly comfortable air temperatures .

The winners of the 5-mile race were Dirk Bell, 17, of Mount Pleasant, and Anna Tommerdahl, 25, of Charleston. Bell’s time was 1 hour, 13 minutes and 25 seconds. Tommerdahl’s was 1:17:49.

Bell is a veteran of Splash races. He’s won all three of the 2.4-mile races that he’s entered. Two weeks ago, he competed in the 6.2-mile National Open Water swimming championship in California and came in 25th.

In this year’s 2.4-mile swim, another familiar face in local swimming circles, 18-year-old Zach Lierley of Mount Pleasant, won for males with a time of 40 minutes and three seconds. It was his first Splash since he won it in 2011. Lierley will be a freshman at University of Pittsburgh, where he has a swimming scholarship, this fall.

For the females, 16-year-old Hannah Craig of James Island has finished the 2.4-mile swim in third place the past two years and was gunning for first this year. She did it with a time of 41:22, which was the ninth best time for both males and females.

Of the 539 registrants for this year’s race, 502 finished it, including 395 in the 2.4-mile swim and 107 in the 5-mile swim. Only one person started the swim and didn’t finish. The previous finisher record was 486 swimmers.

Money raised the Lowcountry Splash the goes to the Logan Rutledge Foundation, which supports the Lowcountry Aquatic Project Swimming program. This year’s LAPS expects to provide free swimming lessons to 1,200 urban youth at public pools in Charleston and North Charleston.