Sports

Brrrr! Swimmers planning cross-sound swim

Gold medal winner Megan Quann will join the fund-raiser for youth programs.

Visit Manzanita Bay early Sunday morning and you may find more than seals swimming in those cold waters.

More than a dozen Bainbridge Island swimmers have signed up to swim across Puget Sound in August, and early morning swims in the bay are part of their training program.

The island swimmers will be joined by Olympic gold medalist Megan Quann in the inaugural Crossing For Kids cross-sound swim on Aug. 13.

Participants will leave from Restoration Point on Bainbridge Island and swim 3.5 miles across Puget Sound to Alki Point in Seattle.

Swimmers will be organized into pods, each accompanied by a volunteer watercraft. Water temperatures are expected to be around 51 degrees.

Crossing For Kids is a fund-raiser for Junior Achievement of Washington. Up to 250 swimmers will undertake the swim as a personal challenge and to raise funds for Junior Achievement’s educational program.

The goal is to inspire young people to achieve their full potential. Junior Achievement relies on thousands of community volunteers to serve as role models illustrating the importance of education and hard work. The Bainbridge pod has pledged to raise $30,000.

Kevin Rabourn, the event’s founder, sees this as more than just a way to raise funds.

“Junior Achievement motivates kids to see their potential, making their future a brighter place to be,” he said. “We’re thrilled to see so many adults leading by example as swimmers, volunteers and sponsors.”

Businesses and individuals who are interested in sponsoring the Bainbridge pod can call 855-0909 for more information. More information about the swim is available at www.crossingforkids.org.

Rita Belserene anticipates that it will take her about two hours to make the crossing. Wetsuits are required, and each swimmer receives a new wetsuit upon registration.

“I swim in the sound every summer, but have never lasted more than a 10 or 15 minutes, so the cold is my biggest concern,” Belserene said. “My first day out in the wetsuit, I was relieved to discover that it really did keep me warm. Once your face adjusts to the cold, it’s actually great fun.

“The view is beautiful and we’ve even been followed by the seals, which are both curious and social.”

The Bainbridge swimmers are often accompanied by Lynn Wells, coach of the Bainbridge Aquatic Masters swim club.

Wells provides backup and encouragement from her surfboard.

Most of the Bainbridge cross-sound swimmers train regularly with the club, which meets for pool workouts at the Bainbridge Aquatic Center.

“Masters swimming is great fun for adult swimmers of all ages and abilities who want to add a new dimension to their routine,” Wells said. “BAMMERS enjoy the camaraderie and social aspects of swimming together as a group, as well as various training opportunities. We swim, surf, camp, hike, climb, ski, bike, run and play together. There are always new options and opportunities on the horizon.”

Swimmers who want to learn more about the Bainbridge Aquatic Masters group can pick up a brochure at the aquatic center or see www.bainbridgeaquaticmasters.org.

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