Open water duo: Young Truckee swimmers to brave San Francisco Bay’s Tiburon Mile | SierraSun.com

Open water duo: Young Truckee swimmers to brave San Francisco Bay’s Tiburon Mile

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunTruckee swimmers Brittany Percin, left, and Cara Silvas dip into the chilly water of Donner Lake on Wednesday. Both will compete in the RCP Tiburon Mile Open Water Swim in the San Francisco Bay on Sunday.

Hundreds of swimmers from across the globe ” both young and old, elite and disabled ” will converge on the San Francisco Bay for the 9th Annual RCP Tiburon Mile Open Water Swim on Sunday.

Truckee’s Cara Silvas and Brittany Percin, ages 15 and 11, respectively, are well prepared to represent the young.

“It puts a smile on my face to see young swimmers out there competing,” said Robert C. Placak, the proud founder of the Tiburon Mile.

Placak said he expects more than 800 swimmers to compete in this year’s race, which begins from Ayala Cove on Angel Island and finishes one nautical mile later in downtown Tiburon.

The distance ” roughly 1.2 miles ” shouldn’t pose a problem for either Truckee swimmer, as Percin swam the 2.7 miles across Donner Lake twice in the past few months while Silvas completed the Tiburon Mile last year as a 14-year-old. Both competed in the Folsom Lake Open Water Swim this past weekend, just one day after swimming 1,000-yard events at a meet in Minden, Nev.

“I know I can finish, so I guess I’m a little cocky in that area,” Silvas said of the Tiburon Mile. “The biggest thing is to not hit anybody and go straight. I don’t want to hit any boats.”

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Silvas finished 11th out of 56 swimmers a year ago in her 13-18 age group with a time of 23:13.6. This year she hopes to shave off some time and finish under 20 minutes.

Percin isn’t quite sure what to expect in her first attempt.

“It’s a challenge because I haven’t done it a lot,” she said of open-water swimming. “But I figured I might as well do (the Tiburon Mile) if I’m allowed to.”

Not everyone her age is allowed to compete.

“They have to prove to me ” through their swim coach or statistics or training habits ” whether it’s acceptable for them to compete in the event,” Placak said, referring to any swimmer younger than 13. “I want to make sure they’re well prepared, and part of that is experience in open water.”

Percin, who will swim with parents Mark and Lydia, met Placak’s standards after two of her coaches with the Truckee Tahoe Swim Team vouched for her. Head coach Debbie Meyer said she spoke with Placak on the subject at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., in July, and assistant coach Sarah Clement mailed in a letter of support.

While Tiburon athletes are offered a choice to raise money for designated charities through pledges, Percin decided to do so for the U.S. Paralympics.

“I think she’s doing a very commendable thing swimming for the Paralympics and disabled athletes,” Meyer said. “It shows what type of person she is. It also shows what our young people in the community are like.”

Placak said the fundraising aspect is part of the draw for many swimmers. For others it’s the high level of competition, as Placak expects between 15 and 20 Olympians and World Champion swimmers from 20 different countries.

Elite swimmers in this year’s event include Mark Warkentin, Klete Keller, Eric Vendt and Kalyn Keller, to name a few. Vladimir Dyatchine of Russia won the Elite Male division the past two years, posting a time of 18.20 last year, and Chloe Sutton won the past two years on the women’s side, taking the win last year in 19.04.7.

Other divisions include wetsuit, age group, teams and disabled, with swimmers ranging in age from as young as 8 and as old as 75.

“They all kind of converge in this one event, making it the most competitive open-water swim in the world,” Placak said. “It’s not often you get a chance to participate with Olympic gold medalists.”