We’re smack in the midst of a season that’s featuring some of the most proficient water sports competitions in these parts. And if swimming is your bag, either as a participant or as a spectator, then you may have a problem choosing where to spend your time Oct. 5.
That’s because two of the most spirited swimming meets this year in Nevada are on tap that day, and both are within easy driving distance. Adding to the quandary is the fact that both meets will engage a horde of swimmers from Summerlin.
There’s the Nevada Senior Games, with swimming events scheduled Oct. 5-6 at the Desert Breeze Aquatic Facility, 8275 Spring Mountain Road. The games are an annual extravaganza in existence for more than 30 years.
As has been the custom, the Sun City Summerlin Swim Club will be sending a strong contingent. The club, which is expected to field the largest number of participants of any team, is coached by Darlene Rogers, a U.S. Masters swimmer.
Then there’s Slam the Dam, a freestyle, open-water meet set for Oct. 5 on Lake Mead. It’s entering only its fourth year, but it already has drawn top-notch swimmers from around the world.
The high point of the season began last month with the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championship meet, a five-day event in California that attracted numerous swimmers from Southern Nevada.
“There are always lots of swimmers from Summerlin, including world-class swimmers, who participate in the Masters National championships,” said Rogers.
While she coaches and teaches swimmers in the 46-member Sun City club, Rogers also participates in Masters events.
“I expect our Sun City Swim Club to be the predominant team in the Senior Games again this year,” Rogers said. “We have eight or nine swimmers who will be competing in about 25 events, and I expect most of them to become gold medalists.”
As for the more grueling events in the Masters competition, which attracts the most outstanding swimmers from across the country, Rogers said, “We have at least two world record-holders that I know of in Summerlin.”
That level of competition will be among the 300 swimmers who will take to Lake Mead, beginning at Boulder Beach, for Slam the Dam.
The novel name originated with an 11-mile race that would have ended too close to Hoover Dam. That race was scratched, but the name stuck, according to Kara Miller, a U.S. Masters coach. Miller, who lived in Summerlin until recently, and swimming coach Paul Fritz were the innovators of Slam the Dam.
“We brainstormed the idea of bringing the fastest freestyle swimmers to Lake Mead for open-water racing,” Miller said. “The competition is open to anyone who can swim any of the distances.”
Information is available at slamthedam.com.
Medals are awarded to the fastest freestyle swimmers to complete courses of 1.2 miles, 3.4 miles and 5.5 miles. Herculean medals are awarded to those who double down by swimming two back-to-back events.
Fritz designed the course, and Miller is the race’s director. She said Slam the Dam was an outgrowth of the U.S. Masters swim team of Las Vegas.
She said a highly competent team of swimmers, called Swim Las Vegas and made up of about 80 U.S. Masters swimmers, has formed the backbone of Slam the Dam competitors.
“About half the Swim Las Vegas team lives in Summerlin,” Miller added.
The meet can accommodate a maximum of 300 participants, and in only three years it has become so popular, it has drawn highly talented swimmers from across the U.S.
“We have also had swimmers from Australia, England, Germany, Denmark and China,” Miller said.
What prompted this swimming event?
“We want to bring a different tone to Las Vegas,” Miller explained. “We want people to know they can come here to gamble, but they can also enjoy beautiful scenery beyond the Strip. And what’s more beautiful than the scenic areas along Lake Mead?”
Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His newest novel, “All For Nothing,” is now available. Contact him at email@example.com.