With fears of encountering venomous Portuguese man-of-wars calmed, the Donnelly family focused Saturday on its twin teens of war: Kristen and Sarah.
"We're swimmers," said Sarah Donnelly, 16, of Sayville. "We see competition and we go for it."
In the Fire Island Ocean Swim, Kristen Donnelly edged her sister for the top spot for women in the 1-mile race.
Karen Donnelly, their mother, also competed, taking first place overall for women in the 5-kilometer race.
"We're a swimming family and to participate with my daughters is kind of special," she said.
They joined a record 107 swimmers for the fourth annual competition, organized by Bryan and Sandra Krut of Bay Shore.
The event, sanctioned by U.S. Masters Swimming, has raised $18,000 for charities including Hospice Care Network. Totals for Saturday's event weren't immediately available, but the Kruts expected to raise more than $6,000.
"People are starting to hear about this and come out for this," Sandra Krut said. "It's a destination."
The location at Atlantique Beach distinguishes it from most open-water swimming events, which are typically held in fresh water, said Donn Livoni, the U.S. Masters safety representative who monitored the race. Despite a few Portuguese man-of-war sightings on Fire Island beaches in the last week, swimmers completed 400-meter, 1-mile, 5k and 10k races without incident.
"We were concerned," Sandra Krut said. "Safety is our No. 1 priority for the swimmers, and there's always a concern when you enter the ocean."
Krut believes a northeasterly wind helped keep the man-of-wars away from shore. The gelatinous grouping of organisms has blue tentacles that cause painful stings.
For New Windsor resident Jeff Steindorf, Saturday's races were a personal triumph after years of recovery from lung and heart surgeries.
The former college swimmer placed fifth overall for men in the 1-mile race.
"An ocean mile swim was a goal of mine this summer," said Steindorf, 49, proudly displaying his medal.