MOUNT DESERT — Calm and clear as could be, the water at the south end of Echo Lake on Saturday was ripe for a swim.
Down the steep hill and winding steps that separate Beech Hill Road from the shore, nearly 50 swimmers gathered by the water for one of Hancock and eastern Maine’s biggest outdoor swim competitions. Yet even though swimmers came from all over the state and other parts of the country to compete, swimmers from one local community stole the show.
Ellsworth residents led the way with wins in all three events Saturday at the Down East Family YMCA’s Bill Reeve Echo Lake Swim in Mount Desert. The wins highlighted an excellent day on the water at Echo Lake, where the sunny weather provided for a much better setting than last year’s rainy event.
“It was a great day for it,” DEFY swim coach Matt Montgomery said. “The weather actually turned out to be pretty good, which is sure more than we could say last year.”
Incoming Ellsworth High School freshman Kristy Barry won the first event of the day with a time of 6 minutes, 23.07 seconds in the 500-yard swim. Maks Grover, an assistant coach on Ellsworth’s varsity swim team, took second with a time of 6:37.45.
Bar Harbor’s Puranjot Khalsa also broke the seven-minute barrier to finish third with a time of 6:56.50, and Caroline Mazgaj of Ellsworth and Joe Zrioka of Brunswick rounded out the rest of the top five. A total of 16 swimmers competed.
Yet the 500-yard event was just the first event in what would be an excellent day on the lake. The day’s second competition, the 1.5-mile swim, brought in contestants from beyond Maine as swimmers from California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York also took to the water.
Whereas the first race of the day had been rather close, this one wasn’t. Ellsworth senior Sam Pelletier separated himself from the pack to win the race in 35:59.19, more than three and a half minutes ahead of second-place finisher Emma Farnham of Winslow.
Khalsa produced a second strong showing in the 1.5-miler, which she completed in 40:07.30 to record another third-place finish.
Other local finishers included Ron Korstanje of Bar Harbor (seventh), Grover (eighth), Andy Stephenson of Ellsworth (11th), Jennifer Ryan of Ellsworth (14th), Dan DeLuca of Aurora (15th), Stanley Yang of Bar Harbor (17th), Tish Noyes of Sorrento (19th) and M.J. Penn of Southwest Harbor (20th). Thirty-one swimmers competed in the event.
Although the day’s final event, the 1.5-mile relay swim, only had two competitors, it turned out to be a historic one for two Ellsworth swimmers. Barry teamed up with Nick Partridge, who will also be a freshman at Ellsworth High School beginning next month, and the duo with a combined time of 37:53.20 to set an Echo Lake Swim record in the event.
Mazgaj and another Ellsworth native, Jordan Berry, formed the other relay team. The two combined to finish the race in 48:17.25.
This year marked the 24th edition of the Echo Lake Swim, which is held annually in August in honor of Bill Reeve, a former United States Master Swimmer who swam at the Down East Family YMCA.