Learn about the Across the Lake Swim from a LYNX athlete who recently participated

Do you want to participate in one of the best run charity events in Canada?  Kelowna’s Across the Lake Swim (ATLS) is the event for you!

Location & Race Day Logistics

The swim is a linear 2.1 kilometres across the pristine and calm morning waters of Lake Okanagan. Participants take transit, walk, or car pool to Kelowna City Park on the east side of the bridge between West Kelowna and Kelowna. Once there, they drop off their gear at a free bag check area operated by cheerful local volunteers.  All 1,300 of your closest friends are then efficiently transported by the ATLS buses, across the bridge, to beautiful First Nations reserve land where your swim will start.

There are approximately 10 or more heats, crafted on the basis of estimated times.   Each heat has been assigned their own distinctive cap colour. There is a race bunny of sorts holding a sign indicating where you should wait on the wide dock until it’s time for your heat to set off.  You may take advantage of your opportunity to warm up ahead of your deep water start. Most people do not have a support paddler, and do not need one. However, there are some kayaks, canoes and paddle boards who wait to the right of the start buoys for their respective swimmers in order to guide them across the lake or just keep them company. There are official ATLS boats and 30 lifeguards along the route to assist if required.

Should you be off on your time estimate for your 2.1km swim, that is not a problem.  The heats seem to spread out after the first five minutes, and you are thereafter swimming without interference. However, occasionally you might encounter an errant swimmer who did not take Coach’s lesson on how to properly sight in an open water swim.

Pre-Race Prep

At package pickup there are a series of orientation sessions or drop in meetings providing logistical information about the swim and answering all the possible questions first-timers may have.The swag is excellent. You receive a draw string soft back bag, a matching beach towel and cap, a t-shirt, in addition to canned soda, energy bars and coupons from local businesses.

Time to Swim!

This year the water was reported to be 21C.  The sky was overcast with a light drizzle that stopped by the time we arrived at the start.  The air temperature was 15C.

There was every description of wetsuit, and a smattering of people who just wore their swimming suits. This was my sixth time swimming across Lake Okanagan and as always, I swam in my wetsuit from Tri It Multisport.  The first five minutes were a bit of a struggle as I regulated my breathing and swam through my nerves.  Thereafter, I settled into a steady rhythm of breathing every third stroke and sighting. At first I aimed for the notch in the mountains, then the tops of the trees at City Park, and finally when I was closer, the bright yellow finishing arch on the beach.  There is a current from left to right so I tried to factor that in as well, trying to avoid ending up too far right, which would have required swimming back to the finish.

I was very happy with my time.  It was my fastest in the last five years and 2nd fastest ever at this race.  Thank you to Coach Mary for the appropriate mix of endurance, speed and open water swimming workouts.

After the Swim…

The finish line is a mass of friends, family and locals cheering and taking in the sight of 1,300 finishing swimmers, from all age groups, running under the arch.  There is a hot breakfast supplied by the Kiwanis Club, massages and the usual banana and water for all. The ATLS Society forward the charitable proceeds from the swim to provide free swimming lessons to local children – to, as they say, “drown proof” them.

I really enjoy this event. I hope to see more LYNX Triathlon Club members and associates at the 72nd“running” of the Across the Lake Swim on July 18, 2020.