Every August long weekend, the town of Deep River hosts its annual Cross River Swim, a race where competitors swim almost 2km across the widest part of the Ottawa River. It has been running for 57 years, making it almost as old as the town itself! This event is quite possibly my favourite competition of the summer, and the only swimming race I do in a year. Oddly enough, the Cross River Swim never enticed me during my competitive swimming years, but was something I started to do once I’d begun skiing. This year I hesitated to enter the race, after a shoulder injury had prevented me from doing any swimming at all since June. However, the idea of doing another solo interval session quickly made me decide to bring myself out of swimming retirement for the event.
On the morning of July 30th, I once again found myself on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, slightly out of breath, after wrestling into my wetsuit (which follows the swimming standard of being several sizes too small). After a quick warm-up, the wind had picked up to create large waves that were starting to become quite annoying to swim through.
Once the race started, the biggest challenge became navigating through the waves to the best line towards the finish. In open water swimming, it is much easier to go off course, as swimming straight is a lot harder to do without a large black line for guidance. However, by looking ahead every ten strokes or so, I was able to aim for the bright orange buoys that were marking the finish line, and occasionally swallow a mouthful of water if a wave crashed over me. Fortunately, I was able to keep any choking to a minimum, and had a small lead by the time I reached a bay close to shore. Once I had navigated through the shallow, calmer waters of the bay, I finally crossed the finish line, in first place.
After a quick awards ceremony it was time for me to head back home, and leave the realm of swimming for another year.
Looking across the river from the Ontario side.