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Sunday, Apr. 22, 2018
Swimmers, triathletes and others gather for Island Swim
by Randy Pascal

In many ways, the 33rd edition of the Ian McCloy Island Swim was similar to many renditions of the event staged in prior years. A wide variety of swimmers gathered on the shores of Lake Nepahwin Sunday morning, though there was certainly evidence of a strong tie-in with the local swim community.

Members of the Sudbury Masters Swim Club, Nickel City Aquatics and Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club were easily found, with the Masters serving as host to the festivities. The remaining mix of entrants included a number of folks either dabbling, or seriously pursuing a passion for triathlons.

And again in 2016, Buddy Green was the man to beat in the two mile race. Yet the beauty of gatherings such as the Island Swim, at least in my mind, is the basic concept that “every athlete is a story” in their own right.

Everyone carries along a completely different backdrop of athletic involvement, different motivating factors, different goals and items still to be ticked off the bucket list. In fact, even a single individual athlete might find themselves at a whole variety of different forks in the road over the course of registering for races such as this over the span of several decades.

Not all that long ago, Green remained a very accomplished triathlete, though his recent focus has been narrowed down somewhat, in light of the responsibility that comes part and parcel of raising a young family.

“I’ve been swimming a little bit more this year than I have the past couple of years,” he conceded, working out with the Sudbury Masters throughout the winter. “I’m still doing a little bit of training, biking and running, but primarily, it’s been swimming.” And that focus is paying dividends.

Joining forces with a couple of friends, Green and the Glory Hunters team established a new course record in the relay event at the Subaru Ironman 70.3 Muskoka race on July 10th, with the local swimmer adding a new standard of 22:23 in covering the 1.90 kilometre segment in Peninsula Lake in Huntsville.

“I love being in the lakes, especially up here in the north, because the water is so clean,” said Green. “I actually prefer it a little bit more to the pool.” As a veteran of the SLSC for many years, the 30 year-old has made an easy transition to the world of open-water swimming, a very nice fit, in his mind.

“I’ve always been a distance swimmer, even in the pool,” he said. “My event was always the 1500m. It translates well to open water, where I can get in a rhythm and a groove. And in the pool, my weakest part was always the turns.”

Even in the pool, turns would have been somewhat limited for 13 year old Emily Dodge, who followed up a five kilometer run as part of the Massey Marathon very early Sunday morning, with a trip back to the beach, taking first place in the 500m leg of the Island Swim. Quite the ambitious undertaking for the grade 8 student at Marymount Academy.

“I’ve been planning it for a long time, and you get a lot of rest in between,” said Dodge. “The swim felt better. I felt fresher, not hot and everything, because it’s in a lake.” Unlike Green, the multi-sport teenager, who also sails and kayaks avidly, is still getting her feet wet in terms of racing outside of a pool setting, which carries with it certain nuances never encountered when she moves back indoors for her training.

“I’ve only swam 200 metres in open water, never swam 500m,” said Dodge. “I was a little nervous, just wanted to have fun. I saw some fish in the weeds (near the second buoy), so that made me go faster.”

Helen Bobiwash can relate, to some extent. The 46 year-old Sudburian is a mainstay at athletic competitions in the area, though she has veered off on a different path, both figuratively and literally, in recent years.

“I’ve been doing triathlons for about eight years,” said Bobiwash after completing her swim. “Last year was the first time there was an off-road triathlon near Sudbury, in Parry Sound. I’ve always loved being out in the bush and trail running.”

And so she entered - and progressed. In November, Bobiwash will travel to Australia, site of the 2016 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships. While the swim leg is near identical, moving from a standard triathlon to the off-road version, the same cannot be said for the bike and run.

“The biggest adjustment was the mountain bike, which does not compare to the road bike,” noted Bobiwash. “So many obstacles, ups and downs, and your heart rate is never steady. I find you have to push hard a lot more often. On my tri-bike, it’s smooth, almost effortless at times, and I get speed really fast.”

The local accountant and long-time member of the Masters swim group might not have spotted any fish in the waters on Sunday, though she is certainly no stranger to racing encounters with wildlife. “What I love about being on the trails is that you don’t know what you’re going to see,” said Bobiwash.

“In my very first race, last year in Milton, I had a deer jump out across the trail in front of me. There were lots of partridges and chipmunks and stuff in Parry Sound. And I run into a lot less traffic in training,” she smiled.

What exactly Lake Crackenback and the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales hold in store, later this year, is anyone’s guess. But whatever, or whoever, Bobiwash might meet along the way, will simply add to the book of memories that have accumulated through her involvement in sport.

Memories that are as unique as each and every one of the entrants to the 33rd annual Ian McCloy Island Swim on Sunday.

Following are the top finishers in the various race segments:

500m Swim
1st - Emily Dodge
2nd - Keegan Lepage

One Mile Swim
1st - Kelly Thompson
2nd - Stephen Vass
3rd - Fabricio Benjamin
4th - Connor Watson
5th - Ginny Denomme

Two Mile Swim
1st - Buddy Green
2nd - Jordan Hotta
3rd - Philippe de la Riva
4th - Tony Staalstra
5th - Julie Rathwell

Swim Snippets: A familiar fixture at most of the swim competitions hosted at Laurentian, Tony Sundholm completed the two mile swim on Sunday, marking the 26th time he has crossed the finish line at the Island Swim.

Created in 1989, the Sudbury Masters Swim Club is now ranked in the top-20 in the country, home to medal winners on a provincial, national and international level on a regular basis. The Club is also the largest in Northern Ontario, at any level of athlete involvement.

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