This event is in its first year and was the third Global Swim Series event in Ontario in the past 3 weeks.  The nice thing about open water swimming as compared to pool swimming is that you could do all 3 of these events and get a different experience each time.  The LOST Race was cold and choppy, then the Toronto Island Lake Swim was warmer and a bit wavy and the Embrace SwimFest was held in a beautiful man-made lake which means the conditions were pretty much ideal!  The water temperature was 75F/24C and barely a ripple on the lake.

Aussie, John Gayford, all "thumbs up" before the race!
Aussie, John Gayford, all “thumbs up” before the race!

Realizing that Gulliver’s Lake would likely have perfect conditions, “Embrace Open Water”, the hosting organization, targeted the selection of races to offer something different than some of the other local races like the LOST Race and the Toronto Island Lake Swim.

Chris CriswickThe SwimFest offered a group of short races (200m, 400m, 800m) that catered to younger swimmers and less experienced swimmers.  (these races did not earn GSS points however).  Having said that, there were some national caliber triathletes that also wanted to sharpen their speed and did all of these short races!  If you notice the winner for the 200, 400, 800, 1500 and 5k was the same person, Ben Sayles.  Quite a display of speed and endurance!  But not surprising for someone who is trying to make the Canadian Olympic Team in Rio next summer!

Mairi, Jennifer and Avril looking a bit excited before their race!
Mairi, Jennifer and Avril looking a bit excited before their race!
Josh Reid, the Race Director of the North Shore Challenge, another GSS race, finishes up his 1.5k... if his time seems a bit slower than usual, it's because he took a wrong turn!
Josh Reid, the Race Director of the North Shore Challenge, another GSS race, finishes up his 1.5k… if his time seems a bit slower than usual, it’s because he took a wrong turn!

At the other end of the scale, Embrace also offered a 5k and 10k.  This was the perfect venue for these longer races as a 1k loop took swimmers around the perimeter of the lake, and around the beautiful fountain in the middle of the lake, before running onshore briefly to visit the feeding table and to be cheered on to their next lap by the good sized crowd.    It is often hard to find these distances at local races so a few open water swimmers and triathletes took advantage of the opportunity and had great swims.  A couple of top series contenders such as Michael Kenny and Gerry Kelly chose to earn their points the hard way and hammered out some great 10k swims.

All in all, it was a great day, especially for an inaugural event.  A perfect sunny summer day, great water conditions and a unique choice of races all made for a lot of smiles… and a lot of swimmers eager to sign up for next year!

Gerry Kelly, stopping for some hydration... but earning his GSS points the hard way.... in the 10K.
Gerry Kelly, stopping for some hydration… but earning his GSS points the hard way…. in the 10K.

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