Steffen, Weigand triumph in Mullen & Henzell 1-Mile Swim

Courtney Weigand, left, and Taylor Steffen.

Courtney Weigand, left, and Taylor Steffen.

Taylor Steffen followed the lead of Alex Roderick at the start, powered to the front and stayed there to capture the Mullen and Henzell 1-mile ocean swim in cool, and clear water on Saturday during the Semana Nautica Summer Sports Festival at East Beach.

Steffen, a 16-year-old home-schooled kid from Goleta, swam a personal best of 18 minutes, 56 seconds. Sean Apsey and Roderick, Steffen’s Santa Barbara Swim Club teammates, finished second and third, respectively, in 19:08 and 19:13. Roderick won the 6-mile ocean swim last week.

By Barry Punzal,

The women’s winner (and ninth overall) was Courtney Weigand of San Diego in 21:16. Karen Schultz, the women’s champion in the 6-mile ocean swim, finished second, three seconds behind (21:19), and Kristina Hill came in third (21:35).

Steffen, Roderick and Aspey were in a tight battle over the first half-mile leg toward Stearns Wharf. Steffen held a slight lead as they rounded the turn buoy and stretched his advantage with about a quarter-mile to go.

“Alex Roderick always gets past the (starting) buoy first,” Steffen said of the early part of the race. “He was past the buoy and I caught up to him maybe at 200 yards. I passed him right there and I kept going and kept the lead.”

Steffen maintained his focus all the way to the finish. “I felt my adrenalin pumping,” he said of being pushed by his friends. “It was good. I wasn’t really looking behind, I was just pushing forward.”

Steffen does the mile, 800 and backstroke events in the pool for the swim club, but he feels open water swimming has become his forte. He’s won the last two weekly Reef and Run Series 1-mile swims and has a second and a third.

“I’d say I’m better in open water than in pool swims,” he said.

Weigand has grown up doing open water swims; she did her first one at age 6. At age 13, she completed the grueling 2.4-mile swim off Waikiki in Hawaii and did the 3-mile Gatorman swim in San Diego. She finished fifth at the U.S. Swimming Open Water 25-kilometer race at 17.

A member of the La Jolla Cove Swim Club, she is aiming to qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the 10k open water swim. This past spring, she swam for Grossmont Community College.

Weigand, 25, has been coming to Santa Barbara for the Semana Nautica swims since 2010. She won the women’s title in 6-miler that year and won it again in 2014. In 2012, she captured the 3-mile swim and won her age group in the event last year.

After winning her age group in the mile the last couple of years, she claimed her first overall women’s title.

“It was nice, it was fun; I was a little surprised,” she said.

Weigand, who also was home schooled during her high school days, said she was planning to do last weekend’s 6-mile swim but a case of food poisoning knocked her out.

“Today made up for it,” she said.

Weigand and Steffen plan to be back in the water Sunday morning for the 3-mile swim along East Beach.