On any given Tuesday, Thursday, or weekend morning through September 10, swimmers can watch the sun rise from the calm water at Grant Ranch. Cheerful colored caps bob up and down as athletes acclimate to the water, which will steadily warm throughout the summer. Swimmers take advantage of the motorboat-free course and bright orange swim buoys to train for triathlons or open water races, or to vary their regular workout routine.
Grant Ranch offers two courses, a .5 mile triangle or a 1.2 mile loop. As Ironman participant and English Channel swimmer, Dr. Laura Borgelt, noted in our Open Water Panel discussion, a workout in open water is worth more than the same distance in the pool. “The time in open water is more difficult. There are no walls, no bottom, and colder temperatures. I usually say that one hour in the lake equals one and a half hours in the pool.” So bonus workout minutes for a swim at Grant Ranch!
If you’re training for an open water race, Sarah Thomas, Queen of Marathon Swimming, says that time in open water is essential. “Regularly swimming in cold water is best. It’s also important to always have a buddy with you, bring warm towels, warm clothes, and a warm drink for afterward.” SwimLabs’ volunteers are happy to provide buddy-system support in the water, on the beach with wetsuit zippers and training tips, or end-of-workout assistance, pointing athletes to the hot showers and locker rooms at the end of a great swim.
For those new to open water training and racing, SwimLabs offers two levels of clinics as well as one-on-one instruction. SwimLabs’ own Mary Carey, a triathlon and Masters’ swim coach, says:
“Even the best pool swimmers can be thrown off the first time they swim in open water. There are skills specific to open water swimming that are important to master - swimming in a group, sighting, drafting, turning around buoys. Once a swimmer has this expertise, open water swimming can be relaxing and so much fun!”
Carey suggests attending one of the open water swim clinics held at Grant Ranch or scheduling a private lesson at the lake to learn the ins and outs of open water swimming. SwimLabs offers both Novice and Intermediate clinics at Grant Ranch, which include discussion and practice of the skills mentioned above, as well as more advanced techniques. Please note that Intermediate clinics are geared for those swimmers who can swim a mile without stopping.
For more information about the clinics, to sign up for individual or group instruction, fill out mandatory waivers, or buy punch cards / season passes, please visit SwimLabs’ Grant Ranch page. Grant Ranch is located at 7255 West Grant Ranch Boulevard, Lakewood, CO 80123, and swim sessions are Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30am to 7:00am, or Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00am – 9:30am. Enjoy a summer of swimming outside in the Rocky Mountains!
About the Author:
Laura Dravenstott has been a competitive swimmer for over thirty years and has worked at SwimLabs for the past three years as a coach and instructor. Laura has a degree in English from Harvard College and an MA in Creative Writing from Regis University. She has published fiction and poetry and blogs regularly at www.wildspecifictangent.com.