Its not news that I love the idea of consecutive stages, so I was very excited to learn from the forum’s very own PWB that an Arizona swimmer, Kent Nicholas, was putting together a 4 lake multi day event just a short distance from Phoenix. Kent successfully crossed the Catalina Channel last year and will be coming east a couple of times this season to tackle MIMS and Kingdom.

The series is S.C.A.R. and the four lakes are Saguaro, Canyon, Apache, and Roosevelt.
Today we swam Saguaro dam to dam… perhaps 9 miles. Tomorrow we swim Canyon.

A small group of swimmers (8), we met up with each other, our in-water support (boats and kayakers) and ground support (vehicle jugglers) at 5:00 AM. The warm up would be a challenging hike down a rugged trail with kayaks, and our gear in flip-flops (yes, we were warned that more substantial footwear would be a good idea).

The juxtaposition of extreme desert flora surrounding abrasive rocks with the cool water (65 degrees at the start) creates a dramatic landscape, though not entirely natural. This series of lakes are actually dammed sections of the Salt River.

We had to swim east for about 500 yards to touch the buoy line to start. Once there, we formed our little tri-pods (heh heh…) of 2 swimmers and 1 kayaker.

Young Greyhound Pod
Gordon Smith
Shauna Nelson
James Sieffert

Wise Greyhound Pod
Kurt Dickson
Patrick Brundage
Wayne Rich

Skyscraper Pod
David Barra
Janet Harris
Jason Walters

Westwood Warrior Pod
Meg Rich- Z
Kent Nicholas
Candy Nicholas

Rover Kayaker:
Scott Mara

Some adjustments were made with kayaker assignments and we were off… start time about 7:30.

I liked the sound of “skyscraper pod”, even though the tallest building in the nearest town to my High Falls residence is only 6 stories.

The banks of the river/lake are lined with sage and saguaro cacti that alternate between open areas and tall canyon walls rising straight out of the water. The rugged beauty of this lake is breathtaking, and I was at times distracted… wanting to focus my attention on one feature or another. Still, Janet and I podded well together, stopping briefly every 30 minutes for a feed.

The Greyhounds (both young and wise) didn’t disappoint, and were out of our sight after about an hour. I don’t know about the young’uns, but for the Wise Pod; this was their longest OW swim ever, by a fair amount. I feel honored to have been able to share the lake with these USMS Stars for this occasion!

…..Canyon tomorrow!

Little Red

NYC Swim’s Little Red Lighthouse has long been one of my perennial favorites. The course continues to evolve, but today’s 10k swims very much like the 7.8 mile swim of a decade ago… that is to say; fast. Little Red has gone from a “butt slide” entry on smooth rocks to a familiar leap off of a NY Water Taxi. Last year’s swim started from the 79th Street Boat Basin north to the Inwood Canoe Club…. crossing under the George Washington Bridge. This was going to be a tough event to top, but today’s event did… and by a large margin. The check-in/finish area had convenient and plentiful free parking available; the park is just across the street from an excellent supermarket so last minute provisions are readily available; plenty of grass to relax and stretch out on; easy boarding of the Water Taxi and exiting onto the dock; and a course that started about 4 miles north of the GWB. Scenic highlights were passing by Spuytin Duyvel and under the GWB (2nd time this week for me). The course was well marked and patrolled by kayaks and motor boats, and the generous timeline allowed plenty of time to socialize… and with over 300 registered swimmers, a good opportunity to meet and greet out of town swimmers, many who traveled from afar specifically for this event.

I was happy to see a good number of younger swimmers present. Their absence in USMS sanctioned events is an unfortunate technicality that I would like to see change. I took the swim out hard, and had the good fortune of meeting up with a few friends along the way. I swam with (behind) Rondi for five or ten minutes, and then came up next to Janet. We synched up for a bit, including a perfect synchro transition into backstroke under the GWB without missing a beat! Then Emma came by and I swam with her for a bit… we swam a good stretch of this event together last year. Kayaker Teddy came by to say hello and point the way to the next buoy, and Capt John gave the final direction of “start heading in” to the finish.

I hope this LRLH course is a keeper!

Thank you to all the staff and volunteers at NYC SWIM for making this an awesome event!