Thursday, August 19, 2010

Puget Sound Blood Center Swim for Life

Yesterday, I participated in the Puget Sound Blood Center Swim for Life. It's a 2.5 mile swim across Lake Washington to benefit their Bone Marrow Registry program. I learned that it's very hard to find a perfect match when one needs a bone marrow transplant. Turns out it costs $100 to register each donor in the national donor registry. The more donors are able to register - the more people in need of a transplant can find their perfect match and more lives can be saved. About 350 people participated in yesterday's event and raised over $42K which will pay for 420 donor matches.

Dream swim team plus safety officer Alan
I was invited on a team by my friends Lyset, Stu, Nico and Alan. You had to form a team of up to 4 swimmers plus 1 kayaker who would escort the swimmers across the lake. In the days before the swim, it's been really hot and the lake has been smooth like a mirror. Of course, on the day of our swim it had to be cold and the lake was covered with white caps. The water was warm though, so as soon as I started swimming I warmed up and felt pretty comfortable except for occasional wave hitting me in the face right as I was trying to breathe.

Swim across Lake Washington begins
We started at Medina Beach and would finish at Madison Beach. We did pretty good at staying together as a team. Lyset was setting the pace. Stu, Nico and I followed and Alan (our safety officer in a kayak) tried to herd us back together if we ended up too far from each other.

Swimming across Lake Washington
The swim distance is similar to an Ironman swim (a bit longer). It went by way faster than I expected. For some reason we were put in a slower Red wave (second to last). But we quickly caught up with the previous Orange wave and even passed some people in the Green wave, 2 waves ahead of us. We finished in 1h 25m. I am quite happy with this time, given that I wasn't swimming at race pace and also given the stormy water.

Our dream swim team after the swim
We took some finisher pictures and enjoyed some bagels and coffee. Unfortunately, the organization was pretty poor when it came to bringing people back to Medina Beach. There was only one shuttle bus that only fit a handful of people and a couple speed boats. After waiting around for 30 minutes longer than I would have liked, I ended up catching a ride with one of the volunteers in her own car. Other than that, it was a great event. I hope the event keeps growing and they organize the transportation better next year.

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