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The SwamThat Story

SwamThat Race was started due to a very personal goal, and hopefully will become a race dedicated to make a difference in the lives of others. In 7th grade I broke my right hip and consequently it’s been fused ever since. Once I was 34 I was in declining health. I was on a prescription NSAID for 14 years, prescription muscle relaxer for 8, and then put on a statin for high cholesterol. I got mad and decided to become a marathon swimmer since that was the one sport where I could still compete.

Three years later swimming has saved my life but I had this audacious goal and no way to complete it. I have a youthful family and the two nearest 10K’s are Michigan and Colorado, I work weekends to be a stay at home Dad during the week so PTO and travel are difficult with the kids. I needed a 10K so I started to brainstorm forming one. I figured out long ago that if you have a goal you cannot rely on others to get you there. If it’s important to you then you alone are responsible for making it happen. I started with the idea of bringing a swim to my home state of Nebraska in Lake Mcconaughy. Nebraska was not as receptive to open water swimming as I would have hoped, and provided a list of requirements that would put people in harm so Nebraska was out. I searched my heart and Okoboji Iowa is where my heart resides. My parents have had a place there since I was 15 and I’d swam the Okoboji Point to Point years prior. My love of the area made Lake Okoboji a potential site. Okoboji is an ideal location for open water swimming because the deepest part of the lake is 120+ feet and is feed by a blue water spring. The water clarity and quality is outstanding!

I met with DNR and gained approval to have it in a calm water wind protected bay named Emerson Bay. I had put together a plan for a 2.5K triangle course that was sheltered by the natural curves of the bay. Emerson Bay is 30 feet deep and is also home to a slight current that keeps it clean. We decided to hold the race with 4 distances, 2.5K, 5K, 7.5K, and the 10K, it was important to me to provide a stepping stone process for those who wanted to train for the same goal. Meanwhile I became a Marathon swimmer by completing a 13K in a little residential lake as a fundraiser for a Multiple Sclerosis Charity. “By the way, I’ll always swim for charity, just let me know, if I can fit it into my schedule and get to the event I’ll be in the water.” My focus then shifted to getting a 10K in the Midwest so that others would not face the same conflict. I sold the local Fire departments Dive and Rescue group on the plan and they supported the race. I was also successful in gaining sanction for the event through USMS and they were kind enough to help me with the insurance fees so it was time to start putting the event together. SwamThat Race was born! Thank you for reading, and I hope you can make it out. 

Please let me know if you have any questions, swamthat@yahoo.com