Open Water Swim Across Okanagan Lake

Safety Tips

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Tips for Open Water Swimming

  1. Know the course and if you have a support boat, make sure they know it as well. The person swimming ahead of you may not be traveling in the right direction!
  2. Swim in a straight line. This will save you time and energy.
  3. Identify landmarks to sight from. This will help you swim in the right direction.
  4. Occasionally “pop up” to get your bearings. Some swimmers find it helpful to pop up every 8-10 strokes. Practice this technique in your open water sessions.
  5. Wear well fitted goggles to aid sighting and avoid leakage. All brands of goggles will “fog-up” at one point or another. You can purchase anti-fog solutions or simply “spit” in them. You may also experience “leakage” during your swim. Practice managing these scenarios in your open water practices.
  6. If you are not a strong or experienced swimmer, improve your swim fitness and efficiency by joining a Masters or Triathlon Swim Club to work on stroke technique.
  7. Relax as much as possible and enjoy the clean water and beautiful scenery!

There are inherent risks associated with swimming in an open water environment. The Across The Lake Swim Society has taken the following measures to reduce these risks:

  1. The swim course is an open course and boat traffic cannot be prevented from entering the course. However, the swim course will be protected by powerboats with lifeguards, and support kayakers, canoeists, and SUP’s.
  2. Powerboats designated as rescue boats, each containing lifeguards, will flank the course. Each boat will be in radio communication with our Safety Director and our Head Lifeguard.
  3. Rattlesnake island and the finish will be marked with very large brightly colored buoys to help with sighting.
  4. Support kayakers, canoeists and SUP’s have all been provided instructions on how to summon help from the lifeguard boats. They provide an additional set of eyes and ears for the lifeguards.
  5. All swimmers are encouraged to document their medical conditions and allergies on their race registration. The Safety Director has a master list of athletes and their medical conditions that was provided at the time of registration.
  6. Swimmers are provided with brightly coloured caps that are numbered. If there is an emergency, the lifeguard will identify the injured swimmer by his/her cap and number, and be in radio contact with on-shore medical support.
  7. Lifeguards and safety officials are in constant radio communication with each other. If there is an emergency on the water, medical support can be summoned immediately.
  8. There is emergency medical equipment and personnel stationed at the swim finish line. BC Ambulance Service is aware of our swim, and will be on call.
  9. The swim is held during the warmest part of the year-- average water temperature in August is usually a comfortable 20-22°C.
  10. Wearing of wetsuits is required as a strategy to reduce the risk of hypothermia. Wetsuits also provide floatation, which may enhance your swim, and provide security in case you cannot complete the swim.
  11. Swimmers are provided with pre-race information on the www.www.rattlesnakeislandswim.com website, as well as in their event packages that includes a review of the course and safety procedures such as how to summon a lifeguard.
  12. We electronically track all swimmers who enter and exit the water to ensure no one is unaccounted for.
  13. The boating and yacht clubs on the lake have been made aware of the swim, to minimize boaters entering the swimming zone on the morning of the swim.

Here is what you can do to minimize risk:

  1. Stay healthy and fit.
  2. Consult your physician and follow his/her advice concerning your participation in strenuous physical activity such as swimming in open water, especially if you have known medical conditions.
  3. Ensure that you have notified race officials of any medical conditions and allergies that you have. This should be documented on your registration. We also encourage you to speak to any of our RIS team or the lifeguards if you have any health-related concerns.
  4. Know your limitations. In the 3km event you should be able to swim 2000-3000 meters comfortably with or without the aid of a wetsuit. In the 7km event, you should be experienced swimming over 5000 meters.
  5. Ask us questions! We have several support channels available and encourage the asking of questions.
  6. If you experience chest pain, severe shortness of breath, heart palpitations, feel faint or otherwise feel unwell during the event summon help from a lifeguard on a powerboat or a nearby support boat.
  7. We strongly encourage you to attend the Open Water Swim Clinics, held on July 26 and August 2 at Gyro beach in Kelowna at 7am to get expert instruction, exposure to the mass swim, and practice in an open water environment.
  8. Train in open water in an effort to become comfortable swimming:
    • With the aid of a wetsuit;
    • In cold water conditions;
    • With groups of people in an effort to get used to swimming in a crowd;
    • In deep water and in rough conditions.
  9. Read thoroughly the information provided to you on the www.www.rattlesnakeislandswim.com website and in your event package.
  10. Know the course and the appropriate landmarks for sighting.
  11. Attend our swim orientation meeting the night before the swim in Peachland at swim bay (6th ave) at 6pm.
  12. Be prepared to swim with crowds of people.
    • We recommend that faster competitive swimmers place themselves at the front of the start.
    • We recommend that those swimmers with more modest goals and/or those athletes who want to avoid the perils and pitfalls of group    starts (e.g. pulling/kicking) position themselves at the back of the start, and take their time starting the swim. You may be rewarded with a powerful draft!
    • We recommend that swimmers with any anxiety undertaking this swim have a dedicated support person follow them across the lake. If you feel you are anxious about the swim, we have a “white cap” system where we will give you a white swim cap which will allow us to keep a closer eye on you! Please ask for a white cap at the registration desk in the community center on the morning of the swim if you feel you need one.
  13. Ensure you warm up prior to starting your swim. For 7km swimmers we recommend getting into the water at least 10 minutes prior to the swim start to get used to the water temperature, to warm up your wet suit, and do some easy swimming. This will minimize the sudden cardiac load, loosen up your shoulders, make sure your goggles are fitting well, and allow you to acclimatize to the lots of other swimmers doing the same thing. 3km swimmers will be getting into the water off of the ferry and will have a few minutes to warm up and get acclimatized to the water before the start of the swim.

Ready to Join Us?

Swim 3.1km or 7km across Okanagan Lake in historic Peachland, BC.
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