Flathead Lake, the largest natural fresh water lake west of the Mississippi, was the setting for the inaugural Lakeside Lighthouse Loop on July 12th where 25 swimmers from the United States, Canada, and Belgium swam in either the 1.4-mile “Lighthouse Loop” or the 2.4-mile Ironman Loop.
“The course conditions today could not have been better,” explained race director Mark Johnston. “A high-pressure system over northwest Montana provided flat water and clear skies. It was absolutely beautiful, and it also helped motivate some last minute sign-ups. We were really pleased with the turnout for our initial plunge into open water swimming in the area.” The race was open to all ability levels, and several first-time open water swimmers appreciated the perfect race conditions.
In addition to the local beauty, Flathead Lake is also recognized as one of the cleanest lakes in the world. Incoming water comes directly from Glacier National Park, about 20 miles away from Lakeside. The theme of this year’s event was “I Love Clean Water” as race organizers are trying to call attention to the environment around the lake.”
The open water community around Flathead Lake is growing with new events like the Lakeside Lighthouse Loop. On July 18th-20th, there is the four-race, three-day Flathead Lake Open Water Swim Series based out of Big Arm State Park where 40 swimmers are signed up. On August 2nd, the 12th Annual Polson Bay’s Water Daze 1.2-mile race will highlight a weekend of lake activities.
“Flathead Lake is awesome.
Its proximity to Glacier National Park and the Mission Mountains make the area truly spectacular. Come swim in the lake and take side trips for some great hiking, climbing, and exploring,” continues Coach Johnston, who is also the head coach of the Lake Monsters, a local swim team based out of the Mission Valley Aquatic Center in Polson.
The Lakeside Lighthouse Loop is part of a bigger weekend for the town, the Lakeside Summerfest. Several of the swimmers also participated in a 5K or 10K run earlier that morning. The race promoters hoped to appeal to the local triathlete market with the 2.4-mile Ironman option. “The water felt absolutely perfect, and it was well organized and a great course,” commented Matt “Calamity” Seeley, local triathlete legend and 1.4-mile loop winner.
Women’s 1.4-Mile Loop – No Wetsuit
Shanda Tansowny: 55:05
Mary Devenny: 1:20.32
Women’s 1.4-Mile Loop – Wetsuit
Debbie Ploeger: 46:31
Deanna McElwee: 47:25
Jaime Young: 48:38
Cooke Thompson: 49:31
Wendy Farrens: 49:55
Karen Giles: 57:55
Jordan Ives: 57:57
Wanda Walker: 1:01.01
Jennifer Griffith: 1:04:43
Julie Houghton: 1:19:14
Men’s 1.4-Mile Loop – No Wetsuit
Stephen Patyk: 55:55
Greg McCormick: 1:04.43
Men’s 1.4-Mile Loop – Wetsuit
Calamity Seeley: 35:25
Grant Giles: 42:11
Mark Sandry: 48:03
Mike Windauer: 50:51
Mitch Young: 55:07
Pat Lake: 55:56
Women’s 2.4-Mile Ironman Loop – No Wetsuit
Emily von Jentzen: 1:02:23
Women’s 2.4-Mile Ironman Loop – Wetsuit
Ali Bronsdon: 59:24
Men’s 2.4-Mile Ironman Loop – No Wetsuit
Mark Johnston: 58.53
Xavier Flory: 1:33:30
Men’s 2.4-Mile Ironman Loop – Wetsuit
Carter Raines: 56:17
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