Rattlesnake Island Swim in Peachland attracts big crowd and a lot of healthy competition

"This year my plan was to stick with her and then, if I was feeling good, I was going to try and dump her … and my plan worked."

Peachland's Rattlesnake Island Swim was a big hit Saturday

Offering definitive proof that there is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition,  Joshua Ogilvie and Axana Merckx burst out of the water at Saturday’s Rattlesnake Island race, taking first and second place and breaking personal records.

Ogilvie, 16, was the winner of this year’s 3.1 km event, and Merckx was second, reversing last year’s order of events.

“We did this swim last year because (Merckx) did it the year before, and said it was a really fun … so we came out that year to challenge her,” said Ogilvie, admitting Merckx beat him in the 2015 race by 3.5 minutes.

“This year my plan was to stick with her and then, if I was feeling good, I was going to try and dump her … and my plan worked. She was pretty mad.”

Merckx was actually a good sport about her new standing, listening to her friend  and as he shared his winning strategy.

“He was with me the whole time and then in the last 500 metres he was, like, ‘bye,'” she said, shaking her head in mock outrage.

Taking the sting out of the loss, is the fact that they both shaved a lot of time off their personal bests. Although official records haven’t been released as of yet, Ogilvie said he dropped nine minutes off of last year’s time of 51:04 and Merckx dropped six minutes off her time of 47:47.

There were lots of personal bests at the event that brought 235 swimmers to Peachland.

Event organizer Valentina Miller said that number in itself was a record breaker.

“We had 156 registered for the 3.1 km swim and 81 doing the 7 km swim— each year we have 60 to 70 more people participating,” Miller said.

The reason for its continual growth, Miller said, is likely tied to the continued success of the Across the Lake Swim in Kelowna.

“It gets bigger every year, and when people finish it they want to do something (bigger) so they do this,” she said.

Buying entry into both events also comes with a discount, she added.

While competition against oneself and one’s peers may be what drives growth in the event, its success has an effect on the entire community.

The Across the Lake Society, which has run the Peachland event for three years,  donates the proceeds to the YMCA, who offer water safety lessons for Grade 3 kids in School District 23.

“We’re in lake country and kids need to know how to swim, and be safe,” said Miller.

The official results of the race had yet to be posted when this story went online, and it will be updated Monday.

In the meantime, the website is rattlesnakeislandswim.com/results.

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