Thursday, July 16, 2015

Frustrating swim in Lake of the Woods

Camp Loll in Wyoming is one of the most hidden treasures of all boy scout camps in the United States.  It includes a lake called Lake of the Woods which is typically very cold even in the middle of summer.  Keeping in mind "very cold" is relative.

This is my third time to Camp Loll.  Here's my first visit from 2009, and my second visit in 2011.  This is my first time back post-English Channel (really post any big swim).  The staff at Camp Loll is constantly changing year after year.  I only recognized 4 staff from the previous visit.  The aquatics director was 22 year old, Captain Charles.

The first day after setting up camp we went down to the waterfront to get passed off on our swim check, but someone hear lightning and we had to hang out for 30 minutes, but another sound of thunder was heard so they closed the waterfront for the day since it was close to the end of freetime anyway.  Kind of frustrating.

The next afternoon after the scouts had their morning MB classes, we all went to go through the polar bear.  That was fun.  You sit under a small waterfall of a stream coming right out of the mountain.  I didn't have an instead thermometer, but I would say the water temp was in the mid 40's.

Afterwards we went to the waterfront to finish out swim check and do the mile swim.  There was a huge line for those getting the swim check, and less than 50% of the scouts were able to complete the 100 yard swim and be tagged as "swimmers".  After the swim checks I was allowed to attempt a mile swim.  This year their approach to allowing people to do the mile swim is to have them swim 9 laps inside the swim area (which is supposed to be 25 yards, but visually I can tell you it is not).  then swim around the western perimeter to the otherside and back.

I suspected that this was not a full mile, so I made sure to wear my GPS watch to confirm.  Duane Ralphs and his son Taggert were kind enough to paddle for me.  Another new rule: One of the paddlers must be an adult.  OK - understandable considering most scouts can't paddle worth crap.

Haha.  You can see all those laps in the pool shows me also swimming
nearly a quarter of the way across. After I exited the "Pool" portion of the swim I
looked at my watch and it read 0.38 miles.  I should have known at that point
something was wrong and fixed the setting and started over!  This was done at
4:30pm and the waterfront closes at 5:30pm.  They were considering not letting me
start because they didn't think I would finish prior to 5:30pm.
I had to convince them that it would only take me 30 minutes.  
After swimming the route I stopped my watch.  It showed I swam it in 19:38, however it also showed that I had swum 1.25 miles.  What the heck!  Yes I pushed the last 200 yards, but no way was I swimming that fast.  I forgot to take a temp reading on my watch at the end of the swim.  I estimate the water temp was 59°.  I thanked Duane for the spot, but still pretty confused on the "fast mile" even though I didn't feel fast.

This is Indian Lake right on the border of Idaho and Wyoming.
nearly 90% of the lake is covered in Lilly pads.  This would
be an eerie place to swim and would cure anybody
fearful of aquatic plants.
After plugging in the data to the computer and seeing the image of the course, I realized that route was done "cycling" instead of "open water swimming".  So it zig zagged all over the place. Oh man!  I wasn't even close to a full mile.  Probably more like 3/4 of a mile.  But until I reswim it with the right setting on my watch, I'll never know.  So bummed!  I wish I could convince the aquatics director to let me just use a swimmer buddy or something and let me swim as long as I want anywhere I want on the western side of the lake.  But without them

knowing exactly my background and experience, that'll never happen.  I'll have to just enjoy it the way it's being regulated, and try other lakes like this under my own set of rules.

Total distance: estimated 3/4 mile in 19:38

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