Douglas Farrow Justice Migneault from Maple Ridge emerges from the water as the winner of the Across the Lake Swim Saturday morning in Kelowna.

Popularity of annual swim on steady upswing

A record number of entrants took part in the 70th anniversary of Kelowna’s Across the Lake Swim

When event director Peter Rudd first came on board as a volunteer in 2008, about 400 people signed up for the Interior Savings Across the Lake Swim.

In the decade since, Rudd and the rest of the organizing committee have watched the storied swim evolve into one of most popular events on the Okanagan’s summer calendar.

This year, on the 70th anniversary of the 2.1 km journey from the ferry docks in West Kelowna to Kelowna’s City Park, a record 1,350 swimmers signed up.

“This year we could have topped 1,400 but we ran out of time and had to shut registrations down,” said Rudd. “It’s great to see how much it’s grown in popularity and we have room for it to grow a little more.”

Rudd said a number of factors have contributed to the continued growth of the swim, perhaps none more than when the format was switched several years ago from a strictly elite, competitive race to a much more of a family-oriented event.

“It’s become a bucket-list event for people,” said Rudd. “They come here, bring their families and make a vacation out of it.”

Rudd said the total capacity for the Across the Lake Swim is about 1,500 entrants, but there are other ways in which the event could potentially grow and evolve.

“We think it’s grown to the point where it can be more than just a one-day event,” he said. “It could be more like a festival that runs throughout the weekend. Those are options we’ll be looking at.”

A new feature of the Across the Lake Swim this year was the Shore Splash, a 25-metre swim for kids aged 5 to 12.

“It was a complete hit,” said Rudd. “We targeted for 15 and got 18 kids. We expect that to be a bigger event next year.”

The Across the Lake Swim Society also continues to have strong presence in the community, donating funds to a YMCA swimming program in the Central Okanagan. Each year, the money allows 3,000 school children in Grades 3 and 4 to take free swimming lessons, providing them with lifesaving water safety skills.

The society is also in the process of looking for a new title sponsor. Interior Savings has shifted its sponsorship priorities and has decided to forego the Across the Lake Swim.

Migneault wins 70th race…

Under sunny skies Saturday morning, Justice Migneault from Maple Ridge edged Calgary’s Bo Simpson to win the 70th edition of the Across the Lake Swim.

Migneault completed the 2.1 km swim in 23 minutes four seconds, two seconds ahead of Simpson.

Calgary’s Patrick McCloy was third in 23:52, with Vernon teen Liam Williamson earning fourth spot in 24:48.

The top Kelowna finisher was Sean Orb in 24:50.

Karlyn Pipes from Hawaii was the first woman to finish, with a time of 26:05.

For complete results of the Across the Lake Swim, go to sportstats.ca

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