Erik Soria turned in another strong performance to make it a three-peat in the 10-kilometre event at the 27th annual Zobec Round the Sound Swim on Sunday.
The winds made the second half of the course a little choppy, taking its toll on many of the competitors.
Soria, a former United States Olympic Trials swimmer, navigated the new anti-clockwise route in 2h 16min 9sec.
The 36-year-old was more than nine minutes faster than Minnesotan Kevin Pollman, with Mike Caputo, from New York, rounding out the top three.
Challenger Roger Dent turned in a faster time than Pollman, but he had made a navigational mistake which had erased about 0.75km off his route.
Soria moved to Bermuda two years ago after falling in love with the island after competing in the Round the Sound Swim several times as a visitor.
Soria’s performance was described as “a very impressive showing” by Mike Cash, the race director.
Soria pulled away at the start of the race and used his experience to maintain a comfortable lead over the chasers.
“You never know which visitors or up-and-coming swimmers are going to show up,” said Soria, who first competed in Bermuda in 2010.
“I used my experience and knowledge of the course to manage the race, which was much more challenging this year.
“I felt strong going into the transition with 4.25km to swim, but we started to be exposed to more of the 10-15 knot winds and slowly it beat me up.
“Turning out to the three islands in the middle with 2.75km to go was a brutal awakening, the 600m to get out to Crow Island sapped me badly, and from there it was simply a matter of gritting my teeth and doing what I could to get across the line.”
Soria, who won last month’s National Open Water Championships at Turtle Bay, has encouraged more overseas swimmers to come to Bermuda and experience the “beautiful course” at Harrington Sound.
“More and more people should come from overseas,” he said. “It’s a really well-run event and the scenery is beautiful.
“It’s a great experience every time. This year there were about 180 overseas swimmers almost matched by locals.”
Cash added: “We are fortunate to have fantastic sponsors in Zobec and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
“The 180 overseas participants represented 30 US states, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Britain and Switzerland.
“This is a major event on both the sports and tourism calendars with the 180 overseas swimmers being complemented by about another 180 guests to have the host Grotto Bay hotel heaving at the seams.”
In the women’s 10K race, Eileen Mullowney, 27, held off spirited challenges from Kirsten Read and Lori King to take the honours at the Aquarium finish.
Mullowney, a Bermuda resident from the US, finished in 2:32.15, three minutes ahead of Read, with King a further four minutes behind.
“The back half of the race was pretty choppy and it was definitely harder than last year,” said Mullowney, who trains with Soria and whose sister, Julie Mullowney, participated in the 4k race.
The other distances saw Overall Female and Male bragging rights go to Annie Fittin and Oliver Vido in the 8k; Suzanne Heim and David Lees in the 4k; Kristin Pratt and Sam Williamson in the 2k and Daria Desmond and Adam Zuill in the 0.8k.