Friday, July 31, 2009

82 Years And Still Going Strong

The Leroy Sparks Goguac Lake Swim held its 82nd annual 1-mile race last week on Willard Beach in Michigan.

16-year-old Clay Youngquist won in in 19 minutes and 29 seconds after a neck-and-neck battle in the battle and up the beach with Stanford University's Rob Andrews of Kalamazoo.

"It was weird, because when we got into the shallow area, I started having really short strokes. So I was like, 'I can't do much more of this,' so I started running. Especially after a mile of hard swimming, you try to stand up and you feel all dizzy. It's a lot different than what we're used to, but it was fun. First time getting in, it was pretty cold. The course is definitely set up very organized and it was good. Not too seaweedy at all either."

Becca Mann defended her women's title in 22:17. "I kind of got nervous because I wasn't sure how I was going to swim it, but I just kind of went for it. I liked having a rower and spotter for support, but I liked the start this year because you didn't have to find your boat. You could just take off."

The event started in 1928 when local swimming coach Leroy Sparks established a summer swim program for children in Goguac Lake. Leroy is called "the father of swimming in Battle Creek" and gained a national reputation for his swimming and diving programs from 1943 - 1962. The event now sees participants from ages 9 to 86, including 82-year-old Don Korten who has done the race an incredible 44 times.

Photo and story by the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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