On June 22nd, 2012 at 7:00am, 36 swimmers jumped into Portland’s 70 degree Willamette River to conquer 11 miles of open water swimming. Two of those swimmers consisted of member Oscar Mraz and swim instructor Lindsey Highstrom-Millard.
Oscar first came up with the idea to do the endurance event after being compelled by Seattle Athletic Club (SAC) swim staff the previous year to do some open water swims. After a 1 mile race and a 3.1 mile event Oscar decided to over triple the distance. He signed up early to ensure that there was “no turning back”, quickly urging Lindsey to do the same.
Lindsey and Oscar spent the next the next 6-8 weeks getting serious about being in the water. They swam on average 6 days a week, and most of those consisted of double-days in the water (with a min of 2-3 days in the open water). They met often at 5:15am to get in mileage before heading off to their full-time jobs and spent many hours in the swim conditioning classes at SAC. Biggest mileage training weeks were in the range of 22-24 miles of pure swimming bliss with the longest training session being 6.5 miles.
Going into the race both Oscar and Lindsey had separate game plans. Lindsey coming from a collegiate swimming background at Arizona State decided a positive attitude and “pain” would be the guide to swimming her furthest distance to date. While Oscar decided to start out very conservatively, build from there, and use his kayakers as his guide to limit sighting to conserve energy.
Each fueled throughout the event with nearly 1500 calories of gels and electrolyte drinks, provided to them by their kayakers on poles, as the swimmers were not allowed to hold onto anything during the swim.
The biggest highlight, outside of this amazing feat, was the two emerged from the water at exactly the same time of 4 hours and 20 minutes, both winning their respective wetsuit categories for men and women. The two emerged together at mile 7.5 and swam the remaining 3.5 miles together. This just goes to show that the athletes that train together, place together!
And after all this, they can’t wait to do it again!