Fellow open water swimmers, the Coeur d’Alene Crossing on August 13, is a gem of a race you will not want to miss. This is open water simmers’ only opportunity to swim all the way across this beautiful lake protected from boat traffic. I love how its long, 2.4-mile, one-way course tests mind and body.
We begin race day in a huddle, wrapped in blankets in the early morning as we sign-in for race numbers and caps. Then we wait impatiently to board the boat, cruise across the lake, and line the starting beach. Just when I am not sure I can contain my excitement any longer, the starting horn sounds and we surge past marina docks, happily fanning out into the wide expanse of open water. We’re swimming toward a shore I can barely see, and I focus on my mantra: stretch, breathe, stroke.
Just when I’m convinced I have missed the mid-race buoy, there it is beside me. It’s hard to believe I am only half way. Surrounded by water, waves and sun, I give in to a surrealistic suspension of time and space, experiencing moment by moment. Warm water spots soothe me; cold spots jolt me alert. Sunlight warms my cheek, offering a brief reprieve from the dark, cold of the deep. Stretch, breathe, stroke. Suddenly stronger swimmers are bursting by me. It’s the final stretch—I can see the finish!
The first finishers have been out long ago with times of just over 50 minutes, which seems all but impossible. But these are Coeur d’Alene Area Swim Team members for whom the race was created six years ago. Greater numbers of swimmers each year have inspired the race organizers to develop innovative options. For example, now we can choose a boat drop off for a shorter 1.2 mile course or become an Iron Series Athlete by combining the 2.4-mile Crossing distance with the CDA Marathon and Coeur d’Fondo cycling event.
I’ll be sticking to the 2.4 mile race this year. Hope to see you out there, and don’t forget the other great swimming races coming up that were highlighted in the June issue of Out There Monthly, which is available online. // (Susan Hales)