Still tired from competing in the Canadian Swimming Championships five days ago, Chantel Jeffrey had enough in the tank to pull out a win at the 20th Skaha Lake Ultra Swim Sunday.
Jeffrey, 16, of Salmon Arm completed the 11.8 kilometre open water distance in two hours 35 minutes three seconds, setting a 14 to 19 age group record. She finished 15:52 ahead of Summerland’s Haley Berrisford.
“It’s pretty cool. I didn’t expect that at all,” said Jeffrey, who didn’t feel she had her best performance after winning gold in the open water event in Toronto, then placing second in the 800 m distance at the Canadian Championships.
The member of the Columbia Shuswap Selkirk Swim Club said the waters of Skaha Lake were choppy at the start, but once she got past Ponderosa Point, it wasn’t as bad.
“It’s pretty smooth. The waves are pushing with you,” said Jeffrey, who represented Canada in the Cayman Islands two months ago in an open water championship. Jeffrey swam freestyle primarily on Sunday, and switched at times to back stroke to see if other swimmers were close to her.
Jeffrey, who swims 10-km a day, entered the Skaha Lake Ultra Swim to see if she could do it.
Along with Jeffrey, Berrisford, Sean Orb and Julia Veidt finished in under three hours. Veidt got in with a second remaining.
Berrisford, 17, came in at 2:50:55.
“It went really well for me. It was really nice conditions,” said Berrisford, a member of the KISU swim club. “The waves were kind of coming in the stretch. It was helping me out. It was beautiful conditions. I had a really good race.”
Berrisford said that Jeffrey is a great competitor and knew she wouldn’t beat her.
“That two girls came 1-2 is awesome,” she said. “This is an amazing race.”
A challenge Berrisford faced was a couple of times during the middle of the swim deciding if she should take her nutrition or not. She eventually did, but it was hard because she wanted to keep going.
“It was necessary for me to keep up a good pace,” said Berrisford, whose parents own the Tri Power Triathlon Club.
Orb of Kelowna was the male winner coming in third overall in 2:57.15.
It was the first time Orb to complete an 11.8k swim.
“I never planned on being the top male. It’s a long distance for swimming,” he said. “It was like a pipe dream to break three hours.”
Initially on the wait list, Orb got into the race in February, when he also got sick with pneumonia. Orb said with this race he wasn’t focused on time, he just wanted to finish.
“In the last one to 2-km, I was thinking I could use a cheese burger,” said Orb, who upon finishing, purchased food from a vendor at the event.
KC Emerson of Vancouver is five-time champ of the distance and achieved her fourth age group record. The 56-year-old finished in 3:03.18, she broke a record by 1:16:00. Her previous records were in the 20 to 29 age group, 30 to 39 and 40 to 49.
“I’ve been fortunate to have the other ones. It’s nice just to come back and do it and now I can wait until I’m 60 and come back and do it again,” said Emerson.
Emerson was motivated by nostalgia to do the race and wanted to be part of it. Her performance was better than she expected as she figured she would finish between three and 3.5 hours.
“You just know those last two or three kilometres are really going to be tough,” she said. “You have to set your mind to know it’s going to hurt, but then it’s done.”
Penticton’s David Matheson placed second overall among males and won the 40 to 49 age group. He finished in 3:02:10
David Kirk of Kelowna, who completed the first-ever Skaha Lake Ultra Swim, finished in 3:09:33 to finish fourth overall among men and won his 50 to 59 age group. While it was also nostalgic for Kirk to enter the race, he was motivated by his kids.
“My kids are really into swimming now,” he said. “I saw the thing come up on Facebook and I went OK, I had a little red wine, and I signed up. It was super challenging. Probably didn’t train enough. It’s a challenge. I thought I should just go do it.”
Kirk overcame cramps to his calf muscles as he completed the swim.
“The goal was just to get to the end,” he said.
The Skaha Lake Ultra Swim had sold out with 100 swimmers, but 16 ended up not doing it. A total of 82 swimmers finished.