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Idea Fair

Swim to the Bridge Contest

How has this idea enhanced your club's operation, etc.?

Because we couldn't hold our annual Holiday Party this December, we decided to launch Membership Appreciation month (why hadn't we done this before?!). Among many other activities designed to bring people to the Club in a safe and distanced way, our Aquatics Director set up a "Swim to the Bridge" contest. Located on the San Francisco Bay, our town was perfectly located to offer swimmers a virtual race from San Rafael to the Golden Gate Bridge. We mapped out a course through the local canal, out into the choppy waters of the San Francisco Bay, past Angel Island and out to the Pacific Ocean. The total course was 15.1 miles. Those seeking glory continued past the bridge en route to the Farallon Islands (in our case, not teeming with Great White Sharks).

The goal was to encourage people to keep people swimming through the holidays and have some fun while doing it.

How was this idea implemented and what have been the club members' reactions?

This was an easy event to set up and could be replicated at any Club near a local waterway. Swimmers had to log their yardage after each swim at a central hub on the pool deck, while our Aquatics Director kept track of their progress on a course map. Each swimmer's little flag would move along the plotted course throughout December, with updates being sent out regularly on who was ahead, who was surging, what kids or teens were giving it an effort, etc.

At the close of December, 48 members had reached the bridge and earned an inaugural "Swim to the Bridge" swim cap.

The enthusiasm for the event was palpable. Swimmers of all speeds were making the effort to log laps and stay in the mix, and had fun chatting each other up on the topic of yardage. Many swimmers had fun taking note of where they were each day in the bay, "I passed the Marin Yacht Club today", or "I swam by Sam's Anchor Cafe today"!

Perhaps most wonderfully, the number of swims in December went up nearly 100% from the year prior. What a boost to the mental and physical health to those swimmers!

We were thrilled to have the buzz of excitement on the pool deck all month long and will definitely make this a Club tradition for years to come.

About the author

Ariel Gutuerrez

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