“Race” Report! The Park to Park Swim!

One nice thing about living in Seattle is that even when I can’t run (my hip is still injured), I have a lot of other things I can do. This past weekend, I participated in the Park to Park swim, which is a non-competitive open-water swim in Lake Washington. They have two divisions, the “Classic”, a 1.3 mile traverse, and the “Double-Dip”, a 2.5 mile double crossing. I did the Classic.

We got up at 5am, and crammed granola in, because that’s what I eat before a big exercise day. IMG_3466

I had barely trained for this. I did three swims in Green Lake of a little more than one mile each, on the previous three weekends. And given that I haven’t been running, I wasn’t in great cardiovascular shape either. But I can swim without pain in my hip, so that’s good. We got to the park as 6:30, and chatted with several other early arrivers.

Lake Washington is a lot cleaner than Green Lake, and I was looking forward to the crossing. But I admit, the idea of swimming through 200-foot deep water in hazy conditions (the smoke in the Pacific Northwest still hadn’t entirely cleared, but it wasn’t actually too bad), when it was a bit cold out (59 degrees F at start time) was a touch daunting. But the water was 70 degrees F, so it was actually warmer in the lake than out.

I checked in and got my number marked. They gave us orange swim caps. I had a little trouble getting my earplugs to stay in, which is a big deal for me. If I get water in my ears, it throws me all off.

I’ve never been a fast swimmer, but I’ve always been proud of being a strong swimmer. Meaning, I can swim for a long time, I can tread water a long time, I know several strokes, and I’m not afraid of the water and I don’t panic if something goes wrong. That’s served me well in triathlons where people pile over each other and push and kick to get ahead.

This was different. Not too many of the people here were ultra-competitive athletes. We were all there just to do something cool and challenge ourselves. The swim itself was not too dramatic. Just a steady, slow rhythm across the lake. The perfect straight line distance is 1.3 miles and I managed 1.3625, according to my GPS watch.

It took me 1:02:20. That puts me squarely at the bottom of the pack. 270/319 overall and 113/132 among men. But as I’m fond of saying, the finish line is my gold medal. So I’m proud of the effort and glad to have helped raise money for a good cause (it supports Seattle Children’s Hospital Emergency Patient Assistance Fund, which helps families who can’t afford pediatric medical care.)


So I had a good time! It’s an event I’d recommend to anyone for whom a 2400 yard swim doesn’t sound like a death-sentence. Well put together, casual, and a worthy cause. I’m hopeful I can get a few more events in this year, or ever. I think my hip might be getting a touch better. I ran 3x1km on the treadmill yesterday. This morning it’s stiff but not painful. I have an appointment next week with an orthopedist. Hopefully I don’t need surgery!