Friday, May 8, 2009

The Great Travis Trek - A Grand Texan Challenge

Six intrepid swimmers of open water swimming note will attempt to swim 102.5K (63.7) miles across Lake Travis in Austin, Texas on May 23rd.

The six-person relay includes Dr. Keith Bell (shown on left), Robert Alford, Lynne Smith, Chuck Wiley, Chris Derks and Dave Barra is not only for the challenge and for the fun of it, but also to promote open water swimming, clean water, and to enhance lives through Swimability.

Swimability raises money for the City of Austin Aquatics scholarship fund which pays for swimming lessons for underprivileged children.

People may support the Great Travis Trek and Swimability by donating here.

100% of donations go directly to fund the swimming scholarships for swimming.


As a traditional open water swimming relay, each swimmer will swim one-hour legs, repeating the rotation until they complete the 102.K swim from Starke Dam to Mansfield Dam.

The group is shooting to break 25 hours.

Individuals can kayak or canoe near the swimmers anywhere along the journey through Lake Travis to cheer the swimmers on.

The swimmers include the following individuals:

Dr. Keith Bell, who spearheads this effort and holds 29 world and 86 national masters records, says, "Swimming is a huge part of my life. It is my passion, my hobby, my relaxation, and my retreat. I haven’t missed a day of swimming since sometime in the 1980’s."

Chris Derks says, "I got back into swimming in 1994 when I was in graduate school at the George Washington University and was coached by John Flanagan. John got me involved with open water marathons right away, which became my primary focus until 2007."

Chris, shown above, has competed in 8 national 25K championships, has done 3 Manhattan Island Marathon Swims , a Traversee Internationale du Lac St Jean, Around-the-Island Marathon Swim in Atlantic City, 4 Tampa Bay Marathon Swims and was the fastest swimmer in the English Channel in 2001.

Robert Alford, shown on left, says, "As I've grown older, I've come to enjoy the peaceful self-reflective aspects of swimming. Today swimming allows me quiet time to reflex on the day's accomplishments. Swimming keeps me sane and happy. The Great Travis Trek provides an opportunity to bring the joy of swimming into the lives of others."




Chuck Wiley, shown on left, a 7-time national 25K champion, says, "Swimming has allowed me to travel to Canada, Hawaii, Italy, France, Switzerland, Australia and Japan. It has taken me to pretty much every corner of the United States. I have done races in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Japan, the Gulf of Mexico, and a list of lakes too numerous to run through. It has allowed me to meet and befriend a vast array of people from a diverse geographic and cultural spectrum."

Lynne Smith, shown above, says, "The discipline, dedication and goal setting I learned swimming as a kid has carried over to every aspect of my life. Over the years, my athletic focus has shifted many times from swimming to triathlon and back to swimming again." Lynne is an accomplished endurance athlete who has completed the Hawaii Ironman in 2004, Catalina Channel in 2006, the English Channel in 2007, Lake Austin Dam to Dam in 2008 and is currently training for the Santa Barbara Channel in 2009 and a double English Channel crossing in 2010.

David Barra says, "I had the opportunity to lifeguard at Coney Island and developed a passion for swimming in the ocean. In the past 11 years, I have participated in close to 150 open water events and hope to attempt an English Channel crossing in 2010 or 2011."

Dave constantly continues to add to his open water swimming resume. In 2009 alone, he has either done or will do the Tampa Bay Marathon, the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, the Mashpee Super Swim 5K, the Liberty Island 2K, theAquarium 5K, the 2-mile USMS National Championship, the 10-mile Kingdom Swim, the Metro Mile, the 2-mile Island Beach, Grimaldo's Mile, the 2-mile USMS Cable Championship, the 2-mile Governors Island, an English Channel Relay, the 5.85-mile Little Red Lighthouse and the Highland Lakes Challenge.

Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association