OMS Presents Open Water Webinars


by Tim Waud and Bob Bruce

Thinking about swimming in the open water?  Need some helpful advice?  Join our new & exciting webinar series on swimming in natural water!  OMS will host four webinar Zoom calls for OMS members during February & March, talking with local experts on how to begin swimming safely in the outdoors.

Barbara Hoiland will start the series by discussing how to get started swimming in open water, making the transition from pool fitness swimming to open water, and swimming just for the fun of it.  She loves the water, but comes from a “hydrophobic” family, and didn’t learn to swim until she was an adult.  She founded The Merfolk in 2017 to gather a group of open water enthusiasts who love to swim together in lakes and rivers. They now swim regularly in the Willamette River in downtown Portland, with her husband and two adult children often providing paddle support.  Learn about what it takes to prepare for cold water swimming, how to stay safe, and make the best of your swimming experience.

Willie Levenson is the Ringleader of the Human Access Project (HAP), a not for profit organization founded in 2011 whose mission is to Transform Portland’s Relationship with the Willamette River. The American Association of Landscape Architects–Oregon awarded Willie with the Tom McCall Award in 2018 siting “Levenson has reshaped and redefined Portland’s relationship with the Willamette River.”  Willie will talk about HAP’s work and the River Hugger Swim Team program of HAP, a “recreational protest swim”, his thoughts about swimming in downtown Portland and the measures the “Huggers” have put in place to manage the safety of the group.

Cindy Werhane leads a small but dedicated group of cold water “winter swimmers” who swim on a regular basis in the Willamette River near Sellwood, the start of the Portland Bridge Swim.  She will talk about swimmers and their supporters who dare to venture into the cooler months.  She will also talk about the power of the small pods (how safety is not always found in large numbers), which she compares to your relationships with your regular lane mates.  Cindy has many years of cold-water swim training and has traveled widely pursuing open water racing & participation opportunities.

Marisa Frieder, Director of the Portland Bridge Swim, will discuss training in the open water for racing.  A devoted breaststroker who loves to sprint, she completed a pioneering 11-mile swim in the Willamette River in 2010.  Relying on her research-scientist organizing skills and her innate talent for worrying, she founded the Portland Bridge Swim in 2011.  She and her brilliant event team developed a robust safety plan that has been tested through lightning, algae blooms, large freighters, and the pandemic.  The Portland Bridge Swim has introduced over 800 swimmers to the Willamette, and served as the USMS Ultramarathon-Distance National Championship in 2018 and 2019.  She loves watching people challenge themselves and still tears up as they emerge from the water at the finish.

Hosting these seminars will be OMS Chair Tim Waud and OMS Long Distance Chair Bob Bruce.  Tim coaches the Oregon City Tankers, is the Safety Director for the Portland Bridge Swim, and has competed in open water events in Oregon & abroad.  Bob is the long-time COMA coach, open water director for more than 40 events including 11 USMS championship swims, and has been an open water swimmer, coach, & contributor most of his life.  Notably, both guys have been honored as the USMS Coach of the Year, Tim in 2017 and Bob in 2003!  Their goal is to help make these webinars informative and fun.

This open water series is available to all OMS members who want to be well prepared for their open water swimming experience.  We will announce each webinar date & time by OMS e-Blast, sign you up via Signup Genius, and send those who pre-registered an email with webinar sign-in information.  Stay tuned!

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