With the Blazing Paddles Paddlefest in the books, attention now turns to the next large scale recreational event happening along Cleveland’s waterfront: the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships on August 10 & 11 at Edgewater Park.
Last year’s championships brought 5,400 athletes from all 50 states to Cleveland in the first of a two-year deal. While the championships were largely considered an all-around success, the opening swim leg proved a challenge for a portion of participants. Many triathletes had previously qualified on courses where the swim leg was held on a protected body of water (think a pancake-flat, glassy lake where you can see the other side).
Lake Erie’s status as an inland ocean was clearly a factor for some swimmers in the Olympic distance event (1500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run) as turbulent lake conditions, combined with what some felt was a shortage of buoys and support kayaks, made for a challenging opening leg. As WCPN’s report noted, according to results from USA Triathlon, 33 people failed to complete the swim out of 2983 participants. In 2016’s race in Omaha, Nebraska, four people out of 2088 did not finish the swim. Even bumpier conditions forced race organizers to cancel the 750 meter swim in the sprint distance (750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run) the following day.
Steps are being taken to provide a more comprehensive safety plan for this year’s championship (new this year is a 750m open water swim competition on August 9) and this Sunday, July 14, North Coast Multisports is organizing a swim training session from 8-11 am at Edgewater Park. “There is an allure to being able to swim on a national championship course with the USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals just one month away”. said Mickey Rzymek, owner of North Coast Multisports. “Our goal is to provide an opportunity to get familiar with Lake Erie and the Edgewater Beach venue and to highlight the strength of the local multisport community in Northeast Ohio.”
Rzymek has also asked for flanking support from northeast Ohio’s paddle community. “We’d welcome anyone who wants to come out and provide swimmer support in the way of paddleboard or kayak!”. A Sunday morning paddle while helping other athletes sure sounds like a great morning to us!