Category Archives: Mid-Atlantic OW Races & Events

Why is this woman smiling?

Elizabeth, somewhere in the middle of the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim.


Smith Mountain Lake Swim – Upcoming event

Info to know:  Both the Saturday 5K and Sunday 1-miler are open to youth and masters swimmers.  There is also a 1/2-mile swim on Sunday for 9-and-under swimmers.  This swim is also wetsuit legal.  There does not appear to be a separate wetsuit category.

Date: September 24 & 25

Location: Mariners Landing at Smith Mountain Lake, 1245 Graves Harbor Trail, Huddleston, VA 24104

Events: 5K swim Saturday, 1 mile swim Sunday, 1/2 mile swim Sunday for youth 9-and-under.  There are age-group categories for both the 5K and 1 mile.



Chris Greene Lake: a first-timer primer

Here’s a quick primer on the Chris Greene Lake Swim for those of you who will be swimming it for the first time this year:

The event: 1- and 2- Mile lake swim at Chris Greene Lake outside Charlottesville, VA. Chris Greene regularly serves as the USMS National 2-mile Cable Swim Championship, but even in a non-championship year, should you set a national record, it counts.

The Course: The setting is a small lake in a public park, so this is one open water race where you don’t have to worry about extraneous conditions like wind or waves affecting your swim. However, if you’re from a land of crystal-clear lakes or sparkling ocean waters, know that the water here is the same murky greenish-gold of every other Virginia open water venue.  It’s perfectly nice, clean, spring-fed water; that’s just the way you get it in VA.  You’ll see your arm in front of your face and that’s about it.

The course is a precisely measured 440 yards, marked by a rope stretched between posts and floated by small buoys. (The header photo for this blog is from the Cable Swim.) You swim down one side of the rope and back on the other (which means an about-face turn at each end)—2 complete loops for the 1-mile swim and 4 for the 2-mile. Waves of ten, seeded by 1650 time, are sent off in 30-second intervals. The finish is at the same end as the start, between two inflatable buoys.

USMS sanctioned event? Yes, so you’ll need a US masters swimming license to participate.

Wetsuit legal? No

Qualifying time/swim required? No, but you do have to be able to complete the 1 mile within an hour or the 2 mile within 2 hours. You seed yourself in your race entry form by entering your 1650 time.

Novice-friendly? Yes.  With a sheltered lake setting, small wave starts, comfortable water temperature and relatively easy sighting, this is a great swim for first-timers, but year after year it also attracts seasoned veterans at the top of their form as well.

What you have to contend with: The water can be quite warm–expect from the high 70s to low 80s.  Other than that, about all you have to worry about is the occasional floating weed and the possibility of a rope burn from getting too close to the cable.  You might also want to keep in mind that the hard-core swimmers treat CGL like a sustained sprint; if your 2 mile time is in the 55-plus-minute category, expect to be lapped.

A word on sighting:  Before my first Chris Greene, I figured having a cable to follow would make sighting a cinch.  Kind of like a lane line, right?  So the first two years I swam it, I couldn’t figure out why I kept finding myself ten feet off the cable on one leg and blundering into it on the other.  Then someone told me that the cable is not quite straight.  It curves very slightly inward as you swim along the beach side, and therefore bows out just a bit on the lake side. Last year I switched my strategy to sighting forward along the cable, and this proved a more effective strategy for swimming a reasonably straight line.  Some people seem to have mastered the knack of hugging the cable coming and going; whatever their secret is, I haven’t figured it out yet. At any rate, sighting is definitely easier in this than in pretty much any other OW race I’ve entered, but you’ll still have to sight forward.

Nice features: This is an extremely well run and, even in a championship year, very friendly, low-key event. Chris Greene Lake features a pleasant sandy beach, plenty of parking, and a bath house with running water (including cold-water outdoor shower). Good post-race food and friendly people too.

Web site:

And a final tip on buoy turns: You do a 180 around a slippery wooden pole at each end. There are a variety of strategies on display, and you can always just kind of paddle around it; any way you slice it, the turn is a momentum-killer so your goal is just to lose the least amount of time possible. This spring, the USMS Swimmer magazine had an article (with pictures) on buoy turns.  The technique is illustrated in the video here, although you’ll have to roll through another 90 degrees at Chris Greene (one more spin?)  I tried this turn technique at my last race, however (which was a 90-degree turn) and it worked pretty well.

Great Chesapeake Bay Swim video

A nice long GCBS video from 2008 to get you excited for 2010.  The Web site is for the medical practice of Dr. Tripp Bradd, a physician and swimmer.


Ederle Swim today, NYC to Sandy Hook, NJ

A small group of brave souls are plugging along in today’s Gertrude Ederle swim, from the Battery in NYC to Sandy Hook state park in NJ, via New York Harbor.  The swim had to be postponed from Saturday until today due to weather conditions, but it’s still no day at the pool out there.  Here’s what the swimmers are enjoying:

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicWater temps: 54-60 degrees F.

Weather conditions – sunny, winds 10-15 knots, gusting to 20, with 2-3 foot seas.

Currently in the lead by about a half mile are Hannah Borgeson (37) and Nancy Steadman Martin (55).  Way to represent, ladies!  You can follow their progress via Twitter and/or GPS tracking.

The swim is in honor of Gertrude Ederle, first woman to swim the English Channel, who made this swim herself before conquering the Channel.

Mathews Wharf-to-Wharf Swim (Virginia)

Date: September 20, 2009

Location: Mathews, VA

The Swim: 1400 meter river swim

Wetsuit legal?  Yes.  But expect water temps in mid-70s.

USMS or USAT license required?  No

Ages:  All ages, as long as you are comfortable with open water swimming

Entry fee:  Minimum of $100. The race promoter notes this swim is not so much a race (though times will be available) as a fund-raiser to benefit the non-profit Mathews Land Conservancy.  All contributions are tax deductible.

Essential information:  Please arrive 30 minutes before swim time to complete registration.

To register:  call 804-725-9685 (the Mathews Land Conservancy) and let them know you are interested in registering for the swim.

More information: our “September and October Swims” post has a link to a PDF flyer.

1. To register please call 804 725-9685 (Mathews Land Conservancy) to let

them know your contact info & intention to swim in the 09 Wharf to Wharf

Swim, then show up to Williams Wharf Sunday September 20 a half hr before

the event to complete waivers & turn in $$, get instructions etc.. If we get

lots of responses, then I can get this info out via email.

Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service swim rescheduled for Sept 13

And there’s still time to sign up if you couldn’t make the August date but you’re free on September 13.

Key information:
1K and 1 mile ocean swims, parallel to beach
ages 13 & older
USAT license or single-day pass required
wetsuit legal
benefits the non-profit Virginia Beach Lifeguard Association
VBLS swim application here (PDF file)

Here are the details about the rescheduled swim from Capt. Tom Gill:

The plan for the make-up 1Mile or 1K swim is as follows.

If you are registered and CONFIRMED  you are swimming in the September 13th race, no further action is required.

If you ARE registered and have yet to confirm you are swimming, please do so by e-mailing me that you would like to swim on the 13th.

If you have NOT registered and would like to do so, a copy of the original application is attached. Disregard the dates and just note whether you are swimming the 1K or the 1Mile. No late fees will apply regardless of when the application is submitted, but T-shirts are not guaranteed for entries coming in next week.

Race Day Registration & Check-In will run from 9:00AM – 9:45AM at 17th Street.

The Swim will start at 10AM! This is because the crowds are lighter, the Tide will be in our favor and the bathrooms will be open.

Free Parking will still be available at the Breakers Hotel Parking Lot.

The 1K Race will be a repeat of the first race starting at 17th St. and finishing at 25th St.

The 1 Mile Race will start at 17th St. and finish at 31st St.

We look forward to seeing many of you on the 13th and I will do my best to keep any bad weather away during that weekend.