Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rite of Passage - Swimming the Lake

Stu Cogan helps me dry off from my swim across Cayuga Lake

For those of us growing up in Willow Creek, i.e. near the shores of Cayuga Lake, it was a rite of passage to “swim the lake.”  This was usually done in small groups and the age for this activity was anywhere from twelve to sixteen.  Everyone kept track of the time it took to swim across, though no notice was given to the exact distance, since the lake’s width varied.

My turn to swim the lake came when I was twelve. The lifeguards at the Park told me I had to swim back and forth from shore to the furthest raft twenty times before they would consider me a lake swim candidate. Since I love the water, this training was not a burden. I was in the water from mid-June through the first part of September. 

The date for my swim was set at August 15.  That morning I was up early and was too excited to eat breakfast.  My mother and I drove to the Park for our 6:00 a.m. meeting with Stu Cogan, the lifeguard who was going to accompany me in a rowboat.  We set the time early so that the Park officials would not realize that one of their boats was missing for this unauthorized activity [smile].  Stu rowed us across the lake from Taughannock Point. I slipped into the water at the opposite shore and started to swim.  One hour three minutes later I walked out of the water onto the shore of Taughannock Falls State Park having accomplished the 1.25 mile swim across the lake.

Happy Anniversary to me!

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