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Hundreds rescued during roughwater swim race in Waikiki

Associated Press Associated Press 6/09/2016

HONOLULU — Hundreds of swimmers who were competing in a race off Oahu had to be pulled from the ocean by rescue crews.

Kaia Hedlund, director of the 47th annual Waikiki Roughwater Swim, said some swimmers couldn't handle the strong current after the first buoy, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2cbWJwY ). At least 455 of the 700 people registered for Monday's event completed the race, she said.

"This was not just a little walk-in-the-park race," Hedlund said. "If you're going to do this, you need to train and need to be prepared for the elements."

Those who struggled with the strong current during the 2.4-mile race were picked up and taken to shore via boat or jet ski by lifeguards, fire crews and volunteers.

Event organizers said about 200 swimmers received assistance, while Shayne Enright with the Honolulu Emergency Services Department said the number was more than 300.

There were reports of injuries during the race, including a woman who was treated by paramedics and hospitalized in serious condition after she suffered an injury on the reef. A 15-year-old swimmer was taken to the hospital by her father after she suffered an asthma attack.

The race committee had prepared for the event by hiring water patrol crews. More than 90 kayakers, paddlers and surfers were also on hand to help those too tired to make it to shore on their own.

In 2003, rescuers pulled 361 swimmers from the race because of strong currents possibly related to the passage of Hurricane Jimena near the Big Island.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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