2021 Eel Lake Swims 1


Great Blue Heron by Jen Allender

Great Blue Heron by Jen Allender

The Eel Lake swims August 14-15, were a weird weekend.  Wednesday night before the meet, I received a phone call from Bob Bruce who was supposed to run the paper half of the meet.  I usually do physical setup and swimmer safety.  He’d had a heart problem while swimming that day in Bend and was calling from the hospital.  We decided to officially cancel the meet as of Thursday AM.

On Saturday I showed up anyway because we had over 30 swimmers still at Eel.  Some had rented yurts in April.  Others wanted to avoid the smoke and 100°+ temperatures east of the coast.  So we gathered together at the usual spot, I gave a safety speech, and off we went in various directions on Eel Lake.

I swam across the base of the peninsula, with some newbies to open water swimming, to the far East bench point 1000 meters from the boat ramp, and then treaded water for a while watching swimmers come and go.

We had three safety craft, a McKenzie River row boat, a kayak and a paddle board.  They split up duties following different groups.  The McKenzie boat came over to the East arm.  The other two craft were on the West arm.

Swimmers were mostly in groups of two or four.  I knew who the singletons were.  Everyone was checking everyone they were with, and were careful where they went.  It was wonderful on a sunny, windless day.

Finally I swam back to the beach and asked if Ed had come back, the only person I wasn’t sure of.  He had returned.  It had been a glorious day!  We then decided to swim Sun 9 AM.

I brought my boat Sunday, and 12 swimmers had stayed around for another day’s swim.  I gave the shortest safety speech on record.  “Whatever you did looking out for each other yesterday, do it again!”  Everyone laughed.

The biggest decision was who might want to go all the way to the end of East arm and back, 8000 yards total.  Two did, Sue Phillips and Todd Lantry.  Four others went 2500 yards up and back the East arm, 5000 total.  The rest went up the West arm or across the base of the peninsula again.

I rowed with the East arm swimmers, more than two hours of swimming.  Todd and Sue had put water and bars in their orange floats for the turn-around and back they went.

We did a head count again, cleaned up the starting site, and went home.  I personally had a great time with spur of the moment swims both days.  Open water swimmers are thoughtful, careful, co-operative and reasonable.


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