Bear Lake Monster Swim - Race Report

This weekend was a whirlwind trying to get ready for the Bear Lake Monster Swim.  Luckily Gordon and I had plenty of help from family, friends and other volunteers to get everything taken care of.

On Friday, Gords and I swam the course to see exactly what our swimmers would experience the next day.  Our swim went well and the water conditions were perfect.  We missed the finish point by about 1/4 mile, but figured that when we put up the red finish arch it would be easier to see.

We got all the prep work done Friday night and woke up early to drive up to Bear Lake.  We got there with plenty of time to get things set up before the swimmers started coming in.  Check-in went really smoothly and I didn't notice any problems.

After a safety briefing by Gords, we all drove over in a caravan to the starting point at Cisco Beach.  Gords and I were some of the last vehicles to get there and we noticed that a lot of people getting ready south of where the race was going to start.  I circled back and let everyone know that we were starting further up the shore.  Actually though, the primitive boat ramp where these swimmers were getting their kayaks ready might make a better starting point.  For next year, we need to communicate better where the starting point is or put up signs or something to mark where it is.

Swimmers at the start of the Bear Lake Monster Swim at Cisco Beach.  Photo credit: Connie Hubbard
Gordon did an excellent job checking solo swimmers and teams off our master list while I was sending people to the right starting point.  When I got to the start, he had accounted for all but two swimmers.  I made some calls to see if I could figure out where they were and was told they had some boat trouble and were on their way.  At 9:00am we started the relay teams.  Two minutes later we started all but two of the solo swimmers.  When the last two arrived, about 15 minutes later, we started them and recorded their late start time so that we could get their time right.  I noticed right away that swimmers headed south of where the marina is and hoped that it wouldn't be a problem on the other side.

With the swimmers started, Gordon and I didn't have a whole lot to do.  Normally at least one of us is paddling for someone and it was kind of weird to not be on the water.  It was good though, because it freed us up to focus on making sure that all swimmers were accounted for.  I got a call from the Coast Guard Auxiliary about 45 minutes into the swim that one swimmer had dropped out.

It was fun to watch the swimmers come in!  Some looked really strong and others looked like they were struggling.  In the end, we all relay teams finished and all but three solo swimmers finished.  For many swimmers, this was the longest swim they had ever done and it was awesome to see their accomplishment.

A lot of swimmers and paddlers let us know that the arch was not visible until you came around the corner of the marina.  In the future, we will put the arch out at the end of the marina so that it is easier to see from the water.

We had planned on only giving out awards to the top male and female non-wetsuit swimmers.  At the Great Salt Lake, the race has always been won by a non-wetsuit swimmer and we assumed it would be the same here, but the first finisher was wearing a wetsuit.  I felt really bad that we didn't have an award for him and I'm sure he felt cheated.  It was bothering me all day yesterday.  After talking to Gords, we went ahead and ordered two more awards that we will mail out to the top male and female wetsuit swimmers to correct our mistake.  We should have just done awards for both categories, but being our first year, we weren't sure we had the budget for it.  In the future we will be sure to have awards for BOTH categories.

We had Cathi taking swimmers back over to Cisco Beach to pick up their cars.  It's about 30 minutes each way and she made two trips (about two hours driving time).  For future races, I think we need to think of a better way to transport people back to the start.

Overall, I think the event went well and we are already looking to reserve July 19, 2014 for next year.

Thank you to all our swimmers and their support crew, this event would not happen without you.  Thank you to my family for volunteering their time to help with timing the event.  Thanks to Chad and Chandra for providing another boat for the event that really came in handy near the end of the event.  Thanks to our sponsors who provided swag and raffle prizes.  Thanks to the Coast Guard Auxiliary who did an excellent job keeping our swimmers safe and they came into the busy marina area and made some great suggestions for next year.  Thanks to Gords and his family for all they do to make these event happen.  He is a true friend and a great business partner.

If you swam in the event this year, please take a minute to fill out this quick survey and let us know what we can do better next year:


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