by Andy Gregory, Pollution Prevention Program Manager
On Saturday, July 20th 350 swimmers huddled in the early morning mist awaiting instruction before the 14th Annual Fat Salmon Swim. Soundkeeper Chris Wilke and Pollution Prevention Program Manager Andy Gregory were amongst the crowd, not preparing for the 3.2 mile swim but tending the Soundkeeper Patrol boat which would host the Race Director and Radio Operator. Standing by at the starting line were Legal Affairs Manager Katelyn Kinn and Program Assistant Paul Fredrickson, veteran safety crew for the race, each in kayaks and tasked with helping distressed swimmers.
Safety is a primary concern for this open water swim held off the western shore of Lake Washington. As swimmers enter the waternorth of the I90 bridge and make their way to the finish line at Madison Park (just south of 520) a well-orchestrated team of kayakers, lifeguards, harbor patrol and safety boats are at the ready to quickly rescue any fatigued or injured swimmers. Soundkeeper played a central role in the effort this year, shuttling Race Director Rob Dunlop and the radio operator up the length of the course, keeping pace with the swimmers and ensuring that everyone who entered the water got out safely.
Drowning and injury are not the only concerns for Soundkeeper, however. Maintaining water quality that is high enough to swim in, drink and eat fish out of is central to our mission. Helping to share this mission with race participants and their supporters was Stewardship Coordinator Kathryn Davis who manned the Soundkeeper booth just yards from the finish line. Armed with brochures describing marine debris and a link to the Swim Guide which shows up-to-the-minute information about water quality at your local beach, Kathryn helped to spread the word about pollution prevention and the importance of clean, swimmable waters. Swimmers are directly affected by water quality issues and race participants showed their interest by downloading the swim guide and even signing up for future volunteer opportunities with Soundkeeper.
Learn more about Swimmable Water Weekend #swimmablewaters
The Winners! (and a new course record)