Columbia Gorge Master Swimmers headed toward the end of the Open Water Swimming season with the 3rd Annual “Escape to Washington” swim. Now retitled “Oregexit” (*in solidarity with our European Channel-Crossing friends), ten souls and five support craft set off in the morning on October 23rd.
The 8 am Sunday Morning swim is religiously attended, starting in May, and going as far towards Turkey Day as possible, by members of the CGM Swim Team and the local Columbia Gorge Triathlon Club. Through the summer, the crowds swell to twenty who make the 1,500m swim around-the-Red-Buoy, at the lift span of the Hood River Bridge. But at the Oregexit-end of the season, just a few diehards make the 3,000m trek to the Washington shore and back.
This year, Mark Frost led the event with swimmers Toni Hecksel, Sue Harrington, Larissa Lodzinski, RutgerEngbersen, Patrick Hiller, Alon Bacharach, Bart Hunter, Mark Ribkoff, and (making a comeback from retirement) All American Swimmer, Terri Tyynismaa. To increase visibility, the swimmers wear inflatable orange swim buoys. And extra thanks this year goes out to Heidi Ribkoff, Yvonne Wakefield, Ty Tyynismaa, and John Fine for providing reassuring kayak support. Following the swim, the group gathered for waffles (nutella and banana – clyclocross style – in solidarity with our Cross Crusade friends) and blueberry French toast.
Fall provides the ideal swimming conditions, as the normally blustery Columbia River calms to glass. The lack of river current is a welcome change from the early season conveyor belt. River temperatures hovered around 58 degrees – down from the summer high in the mid-70s. Mid-summer swims feature rolling swell, chop, and glorious views up and down the Gorge and Mount Hood.
Through social media, the weekly event has now reached Portland, and brought Oregon Wild Swimming (OWS) and River Hugger members to make the Sunday swim at the Hood River’s Best Western Hotel. Portland-ites even joined the Gorge crew for the Annual 5.3 mile upstream “Salmon Swim” from Hood River to Mosier held last month. Easier swims are also held in the downstream direction throughout the year.
Stay tuned to the OWS Facebook page for upcoming Open Water Swim events next summer. We look forward to seeing you. https://www.facebook.com/groups/935442929833353/