The Labor Day Roy Webster Cross Channel Swim returned in a new location, after a two-year absence, making swimmers and supporters happy.
“A beautiful day, you couldn’t ask for better conditions,” said first-time swimmer Tyler Cadham, of Portland.
The location changed this year from Hood River to Cascade Locks, with the 469 swimmers emerging in front of hundreds of spectators at the crescent swimming marina beach.
The beginning was the same as always: swimmers filled the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler and rode it 1.1 miles across the river -- and jumped in 10 at a time.
“The new location mirrors our former location so well it didn’t really change the program that much,” said Ashley Huckaby May of organizing Hood River Chamber of Commerce. “The swimmers were all excited and raring to go today. The weather is beautiful -- and no wind.
“The elements helped us. Considering the major move it’s been a pretty smooth transition.”
The swim was cancelled in 2017 because of the Eagle Creek Fire and in 2018 because of winds.
Veteran swimmers were glad to be back to the tradition, as were a number of first-timers who were delayed in 2017 and 2018.
Swim veteran Carrly Kahler, 17, of Camas, finished first. Her sister, Livvy, 21, who was first across several years ago, swam with their mother, Mary.
“I really wanted to finish first, and I kind of sprinted. I was a little scared I might get lost,” Carrly said. Some swimmers got a bit off course, but there was a large flotilla to steer them right. Hood River Water Polo club, a couple of kayak groups and volunteers organized by Hood River Marine deputy Curtis Kowal created a line of safety boats.
“It all seemed to come together pretty well,” May said.
Asked about the current, Capham he said, “I felt like I was swimming in a lake.”
Sean Davitt of Lake Oswego described it as “a lot easier than I thought. The wet suits keep you buoyant, and it was great weather, too.”
Catherine Fitzsimmons of Portland, said “it was awesome, so much fun.” It was her first time, too.
“It was nice to do something that’s fun and different and a good way to spend the holiday weekend,” Fitzsimmons said.