Water logged and wobbly, swimmers tackle Bald Eagle Lake | SteamboatToday.com

Water logged and wobbly, swimmers tackle Bald Eagle Lake

Xander Tater-Brown makes his way toward the shore Monday during the open-water swim race at Bald Eagle Lake near Steamboat Springs. For Tater-Brown

— When they finally hit the beach at Bald Eagle Lake just outside Steamboat Springs, the athletes participating in that facility's weekly open-water swim race struggled even to walk.

They swayed in the water after standing up, and some fell back into it before finally staggering out, their half-mile or mile races thankfully complete.

Xander Tater-Brown was no different, and even 20 minutes after crossing the finish line, the day's youngest racer was still struggling with a case of the sea legs after his first swim in the big lake.

"I barely made it across the finish line," he said. "I was so tired my legs, they were just like, wow. I'm still not used to walking yet.

"I've never swam that much."

Tater-Brown, 11, joined the Old Town Hot Springs Triathlon Club after an in-school presentation caught his eye. He also plays soccer, and his career as a freestyle moguls skier had him already familiar with Bald Eagle Lake. 
For the first time Monday evening, he was swimming through the water there rather than flying into it from the adjacent freestyle skiing water ramp. And, he learned there's a big difference.

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Joy Rasmussen was there for every stroke. An Ironman-finishing triathlete herself, she coaches the Old Town Hot Spring's youth triathlon team, which this year includes 25 young swimmers, bikers and runners.

Most of their work on swimming still comes in the pool. Diving into the lake may seem like a small difference — water's water, right? — but she said it's anything but insignificant.

"Lakes and reservoirs in Colorado are always more intimidating because you can't see your hands underneath the water," Rasmussen said. "It's always a spooky thing for kids to get in and just start swimming."

Rasmussen helped calm any nerves by mirroring Tater-Brown up, then down, the lake.

He stopped on occasion, treading water as he tried to adjust his goggles or catch his breath, and she used those moments to impart some advice.

She also tried to impress on him the importance of occasionally checking the surroundings to make sure he was swimming the right direction.

Tater-Brown soaked it all up, and despite his exhaustion when he hit the beach, chalked Monday up as a good day.

"It was really fun," he said. "I like everything about triathlon club. It's just really fun. It's always really active, and you're always doing something."

Tater-Brown and the rest of the young triathletes will have a chance to try their skills July 30 in a youth triathlon centered around Old Town Hot Springs. The event will include a swim in the pool, a bike ride up to the Spring Creek trailhead and then a run on that trail.

Monday's fastest swimmers tore through the water. Mathew Lundy was the fastest in the mile swim, clocking in at 18 minutes, 27 seconds. Essi Kenttala wasn't far behind and was tops among the women, finishing in 20:43.

Matt Stensland was the fastest man in the half-mile swim at 12:26. Holly Wright was the fastest woman in the half-mile at 12:43. Champ Quinata was the fastest youth boy swimmer in 24:10 and Chasmyn Quinata the fastest girl in 27:04.

The series returns at 6 p.m. next Monday for its final dip of the summer.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9