WAIKIKI, Hawaii - Facing four to six-foot surf, hundreds of swimmers charge into the water off Kaimana Beach for the 2.3 mile trek off Waikiki. 

"It was really nice, it was glassy, the current was with the course so it was an awesome swim,” Andy Starn of Niu Valley said.

The iconic competition welcomes swimmers of all abilities and ages. Some are experienced Olympians, others are amateurs. 

“It was hard, and I thought I'm 60, but I thought I better do it sooner rather than later,” Laura Winslow, a swimmer said. 

City lifeguards assisted about 75 swimmers and lifeguards hired by event organizers rescued a man in his 60s or 70s.

He was brought to the beach and treated.

His pulse was restored and he was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

It's another indicator that this swim is physically challenging.

In 2014, a man suffered a heart attack and drowned.

Last year, ocean currents were so strong, more than 300 swimmers had to be rescued.

“Last year was a really brutal current, so this year was actually a bit nicer. It always is a nice race but you feel it by the end. I was ready to be done,” Sandie Easton of Honolulu said.

They do it for the love of the sport and despite the challenge and possible danger say they'll be back again next year.

“People do this kind of stuff because they want to be in the ocean and they love it. That's what it's about but I think with any activity comes challenges and risks, but that's what makes living in Hawaii awesome,” Starn said.

“Outside of all the elbowing at the beginning, I'd say it's a really safe race and I'd recommend for people to train and do it,” Easton said.

“It was a very enjoyable swim. I’ll come back again, but I'll need a couple of years to recover though, I think,” Christopher Flanigan from Sydney, Australia said.