More than 350 swimmers compete in open-water Florida Keys race

By Annabelle Caceres - Local 10 Intern

ISLAMORADA, Fla. - More than 350 participants from around the world competed in the Swim for Alligator Lighthouse Saturday.

The competition was an 8-mile, open-water challenge in which the athletes swam to Alligator Reef Lighthouse off Islamorada, rounded the beacon and came back to the starting point at Amara Cay Resort.

According to the Keys news bureau, Miami resident Yoelvis Pedraza, 31, was the top individual swimmer, with a time of 2 hours, 55 minutes and 36 seconds.

The top female finisher, Chelsea Nauta, 29, of Tampa, completed the race in 3 hours, 4 minutes and 21 seconds.

In the two-person relay, the fastest competitors were Tampa residents Pam Owens and Connor Signorin with a time of 3 hours, 28 minutes and 57 seconds.

In the four-person mixed relay division, Punta Gorda residents Danielle Chance and Melissa Varlas teamed up with Sarasota residents Laura Hamel and Rick Walker. They won first place with a time of 3 hours, 33 minutes and 46 seconds. 

The annual event takes place to raise awareness of preserving the 145-year-old Alligator Reef Lighthouse and five other aging lighthouses off the Florida Keys. It also raises college scholarship funds for Keys students interested in competitive swimming.

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