Swim the Loop: what you need to know

To keep the loop safe and enjoyable for all, there are a few features of this beach and swim area that you should also know.  Check out the list below.

...about swimming At Cedar Creek

...about open water generally

The following points are intended to help you have an enjoyable open water swim at the new Cedar Creek Swim Loop, even if it is your first time:

  1. Although swimming at Cedar Creek Park is protected by a row of buoy markers, which are usually well respected by power boaters and water skiers. However,  you should ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR BOATS while swimming.  If you should see one coming toward you, try to proceed to the closest buoy or the shore as quickly as possible, and wave at the boaters if you do not have enough time to get out of the way.  
  2. Since there are no lifeguards present, your safety is completely in your own hands. Use good judgement whenever swimming in open water, and be prepared to walk away if the conditions exceed your comfort zone.  
  3. Although water craft from paddleboards to water ski boats often use the Cedar Creek Boat launch boat launch area, this area is generally quieter early in the morning and in the shoulder seasons of May and September, which is usually the best time to swim. This is also when there is the most parking available, which is free.
  4. This is a deep water swim–too deep to stand for most of its length–so it is not a good choice for beginners.
  5. There are no real hazards in the water other than a gravelly beach.  The swim course itself is as deep as 20 feet, with a couple of deeply-situated weedy areas, one in front of the pump station, and one at the north end of the swim.
  6. Since lake temperatures (usually between 15°C and 25°C) are always cooler than most public pools (27°C+) during the swim season, you should strongly consider wearing a wetsuit for most of the outdoor swim season.  
  7. With every swim, you should also spend some time acclimatizing to the cold water, since your body core temperature is almost 20°C higher.  By walking in slowly, splashing some lake water on your face and neck, you can avoid the “cold shock response” (increased heart rate and breathing rate, often with increased anxiety as well).  Try a few short swims first–to get used to the cold on your head, hands, and feet, to warm up the water that enters your wetsuit, and to establish your breathing rhythm.
  8. Since the parking area is not paved, and the beach is not sandy, wearing a pair of water shoes or old runners would help protect your feet.  Wearing these will not affect your swim.
  9. There are no changing rooms available.  There is a porta-potty at the south end of the pump station building that is not always well maintained. 
  10. If you are cold after a swim, get out of your wet swimming gear as soon as you able to, dry yourself, and put on some warm clothes.  Body core temperatures can continue to drop after cold exposure greater than 30 minutes, so it is important stop the conductive heat loss associated with continuing contact with cool water.  

Some general points about swimming in open water: 

  1. There are many differences swimming in open water vs. swimming in a pool.  
  2. Even accomplished pool swimmers may commonly find themselves overwhelmed by new variables that they are unfamiliar with, which may cause an increased and somewhat unexpected anxiety level while swimming in open water.  
  3. The more open water swimming variables you are unfamiliar with, the more anxious you may feel, and taken together, these can upend your comfort swimming in any open water setting.
  4. New swimming skills to learn in open water include swimming in a restrictive wetsuit, and learning how to sight in order to swim in a straight line.
  5. More confidence in your own swimming abilities is generally required, as there is no lifeguard nearby, or a lane rope or a pool edge anywhere.
  6. Differences in the water are noticeable, including colder water, wavier conditions, a different taste to open water, more limited visibility and an inability to see the bottom.
  7. New variables need to be understood, including what is in the water (such as fish, plants, insects and waterfowl), and what is on the water (such as floating debris, driftwood, glare from the sun, and watercraft).
  8. Swimming with other swimmers tends to be more chaotic, since there are no lanes to keep swimmers from colliding with each other. For some, swimming in a crowd can be intimidating and frightening, especially when lots of body contact can occur.
  9. Swimming in a wetsuit may be a new experience that can add another source of stress.  You may feel restrictions in your abilities to breathe due to the tightness of the wetsuit over your chest; you may feel some restriction of your shoulder movements that can impede your stroke reach and accelerate fatigue; and if the wetsuit is not built for swimming, or is ill-fitting, you may not get the thermal benefit that you may need in colder water.
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