The Skaha Lake Ultra Swim is being reinstated as an official event of Peach Festival. The swim is 11.8 kilometres starting from Skaha Beach to Kenyon Park in Okanagan Falls.

Skaha Lake Ultra Swim returns

The Skaha Lake Ultra Swim is returning to Penticton in August as part of Peach Festival.

The Skaha Lake Ultra Swim has been resuscitated.

The event returns Aug. 13 for the 20th running of the race that was held from 1985 to 2004 with the exception of 1999.

Steve Brown, one of the local organizers, said having the Skaha Lake Ultra Swim return and to be able to celebrate the anniversary is special.

“It was just kind of the synergy of bringing it back,” said Brown, the race director for the Three Lakes Triathlon series. “We want to play that up.”

Brown is joined by Steve King, Shelie Best, as well as ultra distance athletes Chad Bentley, Matt Hill and Lucy Ryan of Vancouver. The group came together last September and talked about resurrecting the Ultra Swim.

“We thought this would be the right time to bring the event back as we have all had requests over the years from people that wanted to do it again and also a lot of people that wanted to do it for the first time, but never got the chance,” said Brown, who added he sees a resurgence in open water swimming.

The Skaha Lake Ultra Swim is being reinstated as an official event of Peach Festival. The swim is 11.8 kilometres starting from Skaha Beach to Kenyon Park in Okanagan Falls. The swim begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 1:30 p.m. or six hours, 30 minutes later. Entry is limited to 100 athletes and their support paddlers. Organizers expect the event to sell out. When the swim was last held, Brown thinks there were 70 participants. Registration opened on Jan. 2 and 26 athletes have signed up. Brown believes the event will sell out because of the demand to bring it back and the fact it is affiliated with Canaqua Sports Open Water Series. Now in its third season, the Canaqua Sports Open Water Series has grown to nine open water races for 2017. The goal of the series is to promote open water swimming across Canada, creating a Canadian brand to the sport. Currently there are two in B.C. (Invermere and Penticton), one each in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and five in Ontario.

“This affiliation we felt was an important step for us to take,” said Brown. “We think it could help secure a strong future for the race as it now has a national audience. The race is also the longest open water lake swim in Canada, which obviously adds to its appeal and mystic. There is something about swimming the entire length of a lake that appeals to athletes at all levels.

“Canaqua being a national group gives us access to those athletes in the rest of the country that may not have heard of us otherwise,” he continued.

Participants must be at least 16 years of age and swim the distance. There is also a cut off at eight-KM at Ponderosa Point which swimmers must reach in four hours, 25 minutes.

For safety reasons each athlete has a specific support watercraft with them throughout the swim. Organizers also provide high-speed rescue watercraft with medical and lifeguards in case of emergency. Safety is the greatest priority in this race and organizers ask that other users of the lake please be courteous and cautious.

Both parks and beaches are open to the public and in fact the organizers want to encourage people to come down to cheer on the swimmers as they start and finish.

“I think it’s a good complement to the other events going on,” said Brown. “We responded to a market that was asking for it. This will be good for Penticton and open water swimming.”

Serge Score holds the men’s overall record of 2:21.44 which he set in 1997. K.C. Emerson holds the women’s overall mark of 2:30.04 from 1991.

Anyone interested in signing up to swim or to volunteer can go to the website www.skahalakeultraswim.com for complete information and use the social media links on the site to follow us and keep up to date with current developments.