Summer open water swimming was coming to a close, and five OMS swimmers spent a week traveling all over the northwest to celebrate with one last swim. The catalyst was two swims at Whiskeytown Reservoir near Redding, CA, a One and Two Mile, on Sunday, September 13th.
Mike Carew had swum there before, and Ralph Mohr had been the Redding Swim Club’s coach 50 years before, so they thought it was a good idea to go this year, even though it was a 620 mile round trip from Coos Bay. Besides the awards for the races were big mugs that were perfect for coffee and tea in the morning.
Then Carew noticed that the Lake of the Woods Tri-Sport Weekend would be held on Saturday, Sept. 12, with a 3K for open water swimmers. Mohr wanted to add the lake to his Oregon lake list, and Carew said, “Why not?” So off they went.
Sixty-two degree water in a lovely setting at Lake of the Woods necessitated wet suits. Eight open water swimmers set off with 20 triathletes doing Olympic distances, including a 1500 meter swim. The first five swimmers past the 1500 meter mark were all OMS swimmers, half way to the 3K. Todd Lantry won the 3K in 45:18, Carew was 2nd, going 48:00, Jane Anderson was 3rd in 51:42, and Mohr was 4th, 53:54. Mohr and Carew then drove back to Ashland and continued on to Redding that afternoon. The week of swimming was just starting.
At Whiskeytown, Sunday, they were joined by Ben Hopkins from Bend, 380 miles away, and Suzy Jajewski who came 445 miles from Vancouver, WA, and who swims for Oregon Reign. All four were faced with two races through lots of stringy water weed due to the lower levels of Whiskeytown Reservoir.
The triangular One Mile course was conquered easily by Jajewski, who won her 40-44 Womens age group in 26:59. Hopkins was 5th for the Mens 60-64 in 29:06. Carew was 2nd in 65-69 Men in 30:24, and Mohr was 2nd for 70-74 Men, going 31:13.
Twenty minutes later the quartet was up again for the Two Mile swim. Standing in line waiting for the longer race to start, the quartet suffered guillotine humor. “It is a far, far better place I go to than I have even known.” “Into the lake, dear friends,” and so on.
The two mile course went out 1000 yards and then east behind two islands for 1200 more yards. When the penultimate turn buoy finally came in sight, the return was between an island and the shore, leading to a 900 yard straightaway to the finish.
Jajewski again won the 40-44 Women, going 54:50. Hopkins was 4th for 60-64 Men in 59:15. Carew was 2nd again with 1:08.13 in 65-69 Men, and Mohr finished second for 70-74 Men with the time of 1:02.18. All four gleefully picked up their mugs, packed up and left for their long trips home.
The longest trip of the week, however, was spent by Matt Miller of Ashland, who flew to Chicago for the Big Shoulders 5K, the last 2015 National Championship USMS open water swim. He had originally entered the Whiskeytown races, but the lure of a big-time swim in the Windy City was stronger.
Unfortunately the 5K was canceled due to high winds, high waves and water spouts. Safety boats could not get out, though Matt said after, “I’ve swum in worse conditions.”
To make up for the cancellation Miller flew home to Ashland and then two days later drove to Coos Bay to swim the ePostal 6000 on Sept. 15, the first day possible. He said, “Why waste a taper.” He ripped the swim, going 1:11.16.78 for a BT and a new Oregon record for 35-39 men.
Suzy Jajewsky then ended the novena by swimming in the “Last Gasp of Summer” open water meet in Angle Lake near Sea-Tac in Washington, adding another 600 miles to her odometer. She was 8th overall in 52:55.8 and placed 2nd in the 40-44 Women. Jajewsky drove over 1500 miles to swim three open water races on the two weekends. A tough performance.
I also want to end with praising Suzy Jajewski, one of the few Portland area swimmers who does open water. We need more like her.