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by Author Unknown

July 19, 2000

Did backstroke around Key West

Christena Pazos has been a familiar face at Masters meets and open water swims in South Florida over the past few years. She is known as someone who has been very generous to volunteer her time to help out at swim meets and open water swims. She has been especially helpful in organizing Gail Rice's marathon swims. This includes Gail's Bimini swim which she was instrumental in organizing; she acted as Gail's feeder throughout the swim. She has also been in charge of Gail's swims around Key West. She paddled and acted as a feeder for Gail's swim around Sanibel Island. She also planned Gail's swim across Tampa Bay, which was postponed due to Hurricane Georges.

Christena grew up in Delaware. She moved to South Florida five years ago to pursue a career after graduating from the University of Delaware. She works for a firm that distributes medical supplies to Latin American customers. Christena was first introduced to swimming when she was five years old. She swam USS growing up and swam her first year of college. After her first year, like many of us, she had other priorities and got away from swimming.

When she moved to Florida she got the bug to do something physical again. She first tried joining a gym, which she never went to. Then she tried running which she didn't particularly enjoy. Finally she heard through a friend about a Master group swimming in South Beach. She has been swimming ever since.

Since 1996 she has had six top ten swims. In 1996 she made top ten in the 100 fly (1:11.56 LCM), and the 200 IM (2:43.90 LCM). In 1997 she made top ten in the 100 fly (1:09.43 SCM), 200 IM (2:37.28 SCM), and the 800 free (10.08.81 SCM). In 1998 she made top ten in the 100 fly (1:01.20 SCY).

Christena's most outrageous swim was her July, 1998 swim around Key West. This incidentally is also her longest swim to date. Her friend, Gail Rice, wanted to swim butterfly around Key West so Christena and two other people decided to swim as a "medley team" with Gail. Christena chose to swim backstroke for 12.5 miles around Key West. This was complicated since she had no lane lines or ceiling to rely on. To deal with this she had someone paddle a boat behind her so she had a frame of reference. During the swim she was oblivious to the fact that she was starting to resemble a raccoon with one exception. While a raccoon has dark around its eyes Christena's goggles were her only protection from the sun for all those hours on her back. Her face was completely sunburned except for these big white circles around her eyes where her goggles were.

The tough swimmer she is, she said the first 11.5 miles were easy swimming. It wasn't until she had a beer, prior to the last mile, that she considered the swim tough. The last mile of the race Gail swam five feet behind Christena, which was helpful to both of them. It gave Gail someone to swim with and helped Christena with direction. However, as would be expected of the competitive nature of these two women they raced the last mile, which, according to official records, was a tie.

According to Gail, Christena's next big swim will be Seal Beach in the summer of 1999. This is a 10-mile National Championship Swim. Good luck!