Okoboji 3.5 Mile Open Water Swim Event 2016

The Okoboji 3.5 mile open water swim event is the perfect lead up to Ironman Wisconsin. With only 5 weeks until race day, this is a good test of our swim fitness and mental strength since it is a point to point swim.

5 am alarm clock so we could get this swim party started! We immediately dropped a car off at Pikes Point State Park at 5:15 am, came home, ate breakfast, changed into our swim gear, and went to pick up Tom on our way to Gull Point State Park.

When we got to Gull Point State Park, Dad and Tom had to do some minor kayak repair so the vessel will stay afloat and hopefully not take on too much water.

Duct tape fixes everything!

We then hauled the kayaks to the beach, picked up our race packets, and went back to the truck to leave any gear we wouldn’t need for the swim. Mom graciously drove the truck around the lake to Pikes Point State Park so we would be able to load the kayaks at the end of our event and not have to drive back over to Gull Point State Park to get the truck before loading the kayaks (this is what we did in 2014…while it worked, it took a lot longer).

Photo credit: Iowa Great Lakes Association
Photo credit: Iowa Great Lakes Association
Photo credit: Iowa Great Lakes Association
Photo credit: Iowa Great Lakes Association

We listened to the race announcements, put the kayaks into the water, did a little pre-race swimming, and waited for the “go” so we could swim to our kayak.

Thanks to Dad and Tom for being our kayak support for this event!
Thanks to Dad and Tom for being our kayak support for this event!
Photo Credit: Tom Gustafson
Photo Credit: Tom Gustafson
Photo Credit: Tom Gustafson
Photo Credit: Tom Gustafson

For the first half mile, I could easily see the bottom of the lake and was so grateful that I wasn’t swimming in the sludge in the lake in Rio. I had leaky goggles and had to occasionally flip over onto my back and adjust them. Dad and I would chat a bit before I would flip back over and continue swimming. I knew the half way point would be when we got to the 3rd buoy (there were 5 total) which was off the point by Manhattan Beach Resort.


When we got to the 5th swim buoy, I did some breast stroke swimming so I could chat with Dad for a minute.

Me: “Dad, did you know that if you fart in your swimskin the bubbles get trapped and rotate from one hip to the other as you swim?”
Dad: “No, I didn’t know that,” as he chuckled.

From this point on, I pushed myself and kept telling myself “courage over comfort” is how you get the job done! Dad said I did pass a few swimmers in this stretch and he could tell my pace had picked up a bit because he had to paddle a bit more. Finishing strong is a great way to finish! Such a fun morning…3.5 miles is a LONG way to swim!


Finish time: 2:07:13

Gear: Roka Sports Viper Elite Swim Skin, Roka Sports X1 Goggles, Tri Slide, Speedo swim suit

What is the farthest you’ve swam in open water? Have you ever done a point to point swim?

My Swim Essentials

After having just completed the Shoreline 2.4 mile swim in Madison last Saturday and gearing up for the Okoboji 3.5 Mile Open Water Swim tomorrow, I thought it would be fitting to share with you my swim essentials.

  1. Roka Sports X1 Goggles…these fit my face just perfectly, don’t leak and protect my eyes as the sun rises over the water. The light vermilion color is perfect for sighting the orange and yellow buoys!   DCIM100GOPROG0015204.
  2. Roka Sports Wetsuit…this is my open water swim preference if the water temperature is below 76F. The sleeves are super comfortable and allow for a nice, fluid swim stroke.   DCIM100GOPROGOPR4690.
  3. Roka Sports Swimskin…if the water temperature is not wetsuit legal, I will opt for the swimskin so that I can wear my tri suit underneath it with minimal drag. The bright colors on the backside of the swimskin also make it super easy for others to see me when swimming! So much better than just the typical black color!IMG_5123
  4. Body Glide and Tri Slide…you can’t have enough antichaffing lube to keep you happy!
  5. New Wave Swim Buoy…this is awesome for open water swim practice! You not only improve your visibility with it, but you also can carry flip flops, car keys, cell phone, etc. in the dry bag compartment instead of leaving them on the shore.
  6. Swim Tools…Pull Buoy, Fins, Paddles, Kickboard, ankle band
  7. Swim Ear…I refer to this as ear dry and for me it is a MUST!  My ear canals are shaped just right wrong to prevent water from draining from them and instead allow the water to sit in my ears and cause ear infections if I don’t get the water out shortly after my swim.

What are your swim essentials?