Swim extravaganza set for Folsom Lake on Saturday

By: Matt Long
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Most everyone is used to swimming in a pool, but not so familiar with the joys of swimming in open water. On Saturday the Sierra Marlins swim team is holding a swim extravaganza at Beals Point, an event which begins at 8:30 a.m. The open-water swim in Folsom Lake is open to everyone and has races of varying distances including a 500-yard swim for kids ages 8 to 10 years old, a ½-mile, mile and 5-kilometer swim for athletes ages 11 and up, as well as a 2.4-mile swim for those 18 years or older. “It’s a combined youth and adult open water swim and we’ve got something for everyone,” Marlins coach Jeff Pearson said. “We’ve got a 500-yard swim for the youngest kids and we’ve got the 2.4-mile for the triathlon crowd and the 5K is also a popular swim.” Pearson is expecting around 300 participants in a sport that is growing in popularity. As coach of the Marlins, the team spends one day a week training in the lake. “We spend two months of our season competing in open-water meets and we’re fortunate to live in the area that we can train in,” Pearson said. Veteran open-water swimmers prefer swimming in lakes rather than pools. Sandy MacDonald, 55, of Gold River, has been an open-water swimmer for nearly 30 years. This year he will compete in the mile swim, as well as the 5K. “This is my fifth or sixth year of competing in this event and it’s really enjoyable,” MacDonald said. “To me it’s better than swimming in a pool. It’s a much nicer setting; it’s relaxing and at the same time it’s challenging. There’s more thought to it when you’re in a river or a lake as opposed to a pool. There’s strategy involved; you need to pace yourself and you’ve got nice scenery too.” Folsom’s Myron Dong also enjoys this event. Last year Dong, 46, swam the 5K race in about an hour and 25 minutes, saying he felt great after the event with a sense of accomplishment. “It’s a low-key event that’s well organized and safe and just a lot of fun,” Dong said. “There are very few 5K open-water swims offered. Swimming in open water gives you a sense of freedom. It’s nice being out in nature and it almost feels like you’re supposed to be there.” Another Folsom resident, Ann Peters, 48, competed in the event last year but will be a volunteer this year, while her kids participate. “Each open-water swim is different and there are different variables,” Peters said. “Some swims there are more contact with other swimmers. It could be wavy; the water could be cold. You also can’t count on your time and instead you have to gauge yourself against the competition. I also enjoy the social aspect of open-water swims. To me it’s fun to swim with your peers in open water. You get to know a lot of people.” Event director Joe Dowd summed up the event the best by saying, “I just like the whole gig. Folsom is a great place to swim and there are no other 5K races like this around. It’s becoming more popular to do these long-distance swims and it’s also fun to the see the little kids out there.“ All participants receive an event T-shirt. Cost of the 500-yard swim is $20, while the half-mile swim is $30. The mile swim is $40, while the 2.4-mile and 5K swims costs $45. For those competing in more than one event, the second or third event is half price. To register go to or show up the day of the event. Swim Extravaganza What: Open water swims When: Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. Where: Beals Point, Folsom Lake Who: Open to anyone Info/register: