Located halfway between Lakeside and Reedsport on the central Oregon coast, is Eel Lake, which is named for its shape, not its residents. The final swims of the 2017 Oregon open water series took place at Eel Lake on an unseasonably cool and damp mid-summer morning, Sunday Aug 13th. The annual end-of-season potluck took place the night before at Tugman Campgrounds where swimmers do what they do best–eat!
For those unfamiliar with the tradition, Connie Shuman and Dan Gray annually wager on the Super Bowl, with the loser providing the main dish at the last open water swim of the season. Connie may have lost the Super Bowl wager, despite an impressive half-time lead by her team, but we all won when we got to eat her delicious stew and all the goodies provided by the other swimmers. Confident in the next Super Bowl, Dan “graciously” gifted Connie with a foam brick to throw at her TV during the game. With the rivalry already heating up for the 2018 wager, time (and maybe the Patriots) will tell who prepares dinner next year.
After a great meal and quality time spent with fellow swimmers and friends the night before, the first of three swims, the 3000 meter, started with a light rain and air temperature that was slightly cooler than the water temperature. The fog and mist provided a gorgeous backdrop to the trees, although it also obscured the buoys across the lake. A hearty group swam 2 laps around the 1500 meter course that included a blind spot around a point of land that jutted out and concealed the 2nd buoy. Swimmers had to strategize around the point, whether to take a straighter line and swim through weeds and shallow water or take a longer arc around the point but stay in deeper water. From there it was two 90° turns and then straight back toward the beach.
The most-anticipated part of the day was the 600 meter agility course! The agility course was a long time in the making for organizer Bob Bruce, who has a penchant for agility courses and testing the ability of swimmers to follow directions! There were 10 stations along the course: 1) swimming through weeds towards 2) 8 slalom buoys, then a short stint on land, 3) climbing over a 3’ high pool noodle, under an 18” pool noodle (which was followed by a splash into a frigid pool of water), 4) ringing a bell, then 5) diving through a hoop back into the lake, then 6) swimming a 360° turn around a buoy, 7) swimming under 6 pool noodles laid out like a ladder on the surface of the water, 8) swimming underwater through a series of hoops, 9) another 360° turn around a buoy, and finally 10) walking backwards across the finish line. Swimmers started 30 seconds apart and were sorted out along the way, not just by swimming speed but their ability to follow the course and quickly change directions along the way!
It was a fun challenge to test your skills and have a great time in the water! Connie Shuman won the honor of a special prize—bragging rights—awarded by Ralph Mohr for her elegant dive through the hoop and back into the water. It was a lot of work to put the course together and set it in the water, but from a swimmer’s perspective it was well worth the effort!
The final swim of the day was the 1500 meter, which was a single lap around the buoys in the opposite direction of the 3000 meter. The day hadn’t gotten much warmer but had stopped raining by then. A bigger crowd of swimmers turned out for the 1500, including one swimmer who swam her first ever open water event!
Besides the event director, Bob Bruce, who with the help of Ralph Mohr prepped the course and tabulated results, special thanks goes to Ralph’s daughter who prepared fruit, bagels, hot water, coffee, and other refreshments that were available throughout all 3 swims. Additionally, the safety crew ensured that everyone who entered the water also left the water safe and sound. Overall, the swims at Eel Lake were a great way to end the season and leave everyone anxious for next summer!
Check out the results of the open water swim series here: