In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, competitors in the Swim for Alligator Lighthouse, an open-water, long-distance event, round the Florida Keys lighthouse and head to shore Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, near Islamorada, Fla. The event began in 2013 to help raise awareness about preserving the almost 150-year-old lighthouse as well as five other lighthouses off the Keys. This year’s contest attracted 461 swimmers. (Steve Panariello/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

Tampa Bay area man wins Alligator Lighthouse open water meet

ISLAMORADA, Fla. (AP) — A 29-year-old swimmer from the Tampa Bay area posted the fastest time among more than 460 participants at an 8-mile open water swimming competition in the Florida Keys.

Connor Signorin finished Saturday’s Swim for Alligator Lighthouse in three hours, five minutes and 37 seconds. Brooke Bennett, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, from Clearwater, Florida, was the top woman, finishing the race in 3:19:20.

Tampa residents Andrew Lashlee and Robert Skaggs posted the fastest two-person relay division time with 4:03:58. Swimmers Michelle Dalton, Sara McLarty and Misty Bacerra, all of Clermont, Florida, won the three-person class in 4:15:32.

The winning four-person team was a mixed relay of male and female competitors. Fort Lauderdale residents Tim Shead, Harold Wagner, Serge Wenzel and Ann Kilpatrick posted a time of 3:34:42.

The open-ocean event raises college scholarship funds for Keys students interested in competitive swimming.

The annual event is also hosted by a nonprofit to raise money to restore the nearly 148-year-old Alligator Reef Lighthouse and five other aging lighthouses off the Keys, no longer used for maritime navigation.

Earlier this week, the Islamorada-based nonprofit Friends of the Pool Inc. announced that U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland had approved a recommendation from the National Park Service to transfer ownership of the lighthouse to Friends of the Pool under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.

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