O’Siadhail, Roy win in Semana Nautica biathlon debuts

Not even a wrong lef turn could keep Irishman Donncha O’Siadhail from winning the Semana Nautica 5-mile biathlon on Saturday.

O’Siadhail was so dominant in the 1-mile swim of the race that he had plenty of time to recover from a premature turn toward shore (about 150 yards before the finishing area) to win handily, beating perennial champion Jon Clark in the process.

O’Siadhail, 33, a high school teacher in Ireland and a triathlete, won in 45 minutes, 26 seconds. Clark, 50, finished second in 47:48.

The women’s winner was Renee Roy, a 25-year-old Pismo Beach lifeguard and former collegiate swimmer from Oxnard.

O’Siadhail entered the water in second place, 11 seconds behind leader Scott Devore, who was timed in 23:29 for the four-mile sand run along East Beach.

Relishing the mild water temperature and calm conditions, O’Siadhail turned on his propellers and sped past Devore.

He barely avoided disqualification when he turned toward the beach too soon. Spectators on the beach screamed at him to go back and he managed to hear them before coming to his feet.

He swam back into deeper water and exited at the proper finishing area.

O’Siadhail blamed the mistake on fogged goggles.

“When the goggles fog up, you can’t see anything, but I saw the van (a red lifeguard truck) and the yellow buoy and I thought that was (the finish),” he said. “Then I saw (his friend) Jennifer and somebody else yelling, ‘Get back, get back.’ I couldn’t see the building.”

Despite the early left turn, O’Siadhail was in no danger of losing the lead.

Ryan Wenger (48:23), Carl Parker (49:13) and Ed Smith (49:30) rounded out the top five. Devore was sixth in 49:48.

Roy was seventh overall. The former Oxnard High and Ventura College swimmer was competing in her first biathlon.

“I’ve never done any open-water swims except lifeguarding,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do it. For the last couple of years I’ve looked at his ocean festival and thought about doing the swims, but for some reason the last two summers I’ve gotten sick right at this time with a summer cold and haven’t been able to get out of bed. Finally, this year I got out of bed to try it.”

Roy said she was the fourth woman to hit the water and went after the leaders.

“I passed one, I passed the next one and then all of a sudden, ‘I got to find her, I’ve got to find her.’”

Now she’s hooked on the event.

“As I was swimming I was saying, ‘OK, I like this; I think I’ve found my calling. I’m going to try more of these,’ ” she said.

Becky Glusac (51:06), Chrissy Faulding (55:36), Leslie Roth (55:36) and Maureen MacDonald finished second through fifth.