Question & answer


The annual John  Shrum Chris Greene Lake 1 & 2 mile cable swims will take place this year on June 1 in Charlottesville, VA. You can register online.  Whether you’re a seasoned open-water veteran or you’re considering your first open water swim, Chris Greene is a great choice.

What we like about Chris Greene:

Friendly atmosphere—everyone is welcoming and ready to share tips and open water swimming stories.

Beginner friendly—The water is warm and there are no currents, waves, tides or jellyfish to worry about, and it’s easy to sight along the 1/4 mile cable (which is actually a rope strung between posts).  There’s ample race support for safety, and swimmers are started in waves of only 10 (seeded by 1650 time), which means you won’t be having to fight through a sea of elbows and kicking feet.  And you can choose either a 1-mile or 2-mile race, or, if you’re feeling ambitious, sign up for both.

Nice setting—with a sandy beach, bathhouses, and a tranquil lake surrounded by woods, it’s a great place for a swim event.  And don’t forget that post-race social.

A measured course—As the Chris Greene cable swim web site notes, “Because a cable swim is measured and surveyed to precisely ¼ mile (440 yards), the one and two-mile cable distances are the only open water events in which USMS maintains national records.” Thanks to that measured course, this is one of the very few open water swims in which you can accurately compare your swims against each-other from year to year.  You swim out on one side of the rope and back on the other (which means an about face turn at each end.)  For the 2 mile event, that means 4 loops.  The finish is at the same end as the start. 

Storied history—the race has been going strong since 1977.  Many swimmers return year after year. 

USMS Sanctioned event?  Yes, which means you need a USMS registration card to participate.

Wetsuit Legal?  No.

What you have to contend with – Very flat conditions, sheltered lake setting, relatively easy sighting.  It’s a good swim for first open water swimmers.  The race is in June, but the water can be pretty warm some years.  Chris Greene Lake features a pleasant, sandy beach, plenty of parking, and a bath house with running water and bathrooms.  Following the races there is a “social” waterside with food and beverages while the awards are presented.  Some swimmers do both events.

You get a “psych sheet” when you sign in (also posted on the website) and your race number is put on your shoulders with a Sharpie.  It will also indicate what wave you are in.  Race Director and starter Jim Miller will assure you that you are a National Champion just for showing up.

Following the safety briefing, swimmers are lined up by wave which start 30 seconds apart.  With only ten swimmers per wave there’s no real worry about having another racer swim over top of you.