Some of Sooke’s water-loving adults will swim across Okanagan Lake this summer. They will be attending the Kelowna Swim Across the Lake Swim in July.
Ron Buddo, a Sooke Swim Fit swimmer, has been promoting the epic swim.
A few years back, when he was just beginning his seventh decade, he decided it was time to do something to promote his own health and fitness. He opted for swimming. Only problem was, he couldn’t swim.
Not about to let a simple obstacle stand in his way, he set out to learn.
“Four years ago at age 70 and living in Kelowna, I was unable to swim a length of the pool freestyle,” Buddo wrote in an email. “I joined Okanagan Masters and nine months later I swam the 2.1 km across Lake Okanagan.”
He elaborated in person, saying that the first time he attempted to swim across the lake (after learning to swim with the Masters), he only made it halfway. Leg cramps caused him to abandon the swim. Frustrated with this setback, he and a friend continued their training and swam the lake, sans-group, on their own. And he made it.
For the next three years, Buddo completed the Across the Lake Swim, making it four times that he has swam the lake. This year will be his fifth.
The website claims that the swim is 2.1 kilometres long. To which Buddo clarifies, “If you do it in a straight line.” Last year, for example, a strong current caused most swimmers to swim in more of a curve than a straight line.
It’s a one-way swim. And to add incentive, swimmers are bussed to the other side, and then they swim back.
Last year, looking back on past records, of the 659 swimmers, there were two swimmers from Sooke: Murray Benson and Laura Byrne. Both are swimming again this year. So far, there are a total of 13 Sooke residents registered for this year’s swim, with five from the Swim Fit class from SEAPARC.
The youngest age category (10-19) sees Kaelison Poirier and Doug Van Ek in the water, and our most senior swimmers (70-79) include Ron Buddo and Bob Whittet. The other swimmers are Dave Cummings, Lisa Knoles, Teresa Lennox, Tara Poirier, Fiona and Allan Poole, and Rayner Thorn.
This swim is Canada’s largest open water swim, and this year will be the 66th consecutive year the swim has been held. Registration is still open, at acrossthelakeswim.com.
For aspiring and existing swimmers looking to strengthen their stroke, there is a drop-in Swim Fit at SEAPARC on Monday and Wednesday evenings, from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. There is also a registered Swim Fit group that meets between 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. on Thursday mornings. Registration is required for the morning class, and you can register at any time. Call 250-642-8000 for information.
According to Swim Fit instructor JoAnne Aspin, “Swim Fit is a fitness program for people who are interested in swimming as a part of their healthy lifestyle. What it ISN’T is a high performance training program.”
If you’ve been thinking about swimming, Swim Fit might just be for you. And who knows, before you know it you too might be swimming across a lake.