Swimmers race across Donner Lake | SierraSun.com

Swimmers race across Donner Lake

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunSwimmers stand in the water before the start of the 2.7-mile Donner Lake Open Water Swim on Saturday morning.

The wind-driven white caps that commonly sweep across Donner Lake held off just long enough Saturday morning ” for most swimmers, that is.

By 10:30 a.m., two hours after the start of the 27th annual Donner Lake Open Water Swim, the wind was howling across the water, whipping up waves as it blew steadily from west to east.

At that point, however, the majority of the 300-plus competitors had trudged out of the water at the West End beach finish line after completing the 2.7-mile swim.

“The faster you were, the less wind you had to contend with,” said Peter Morris of Tahoe City, who finished the race in 1:11.19 in what was his seventh or eighth attempt. “Anyone coming in at two hours was probably hating life.”

Morris said that while the wind picked up a couple times when he was in the water, for the most part the lake remained calm until after he had finished.

The glassy water didn’t last long, though, as one of Morris’ friends who completed the swim in about an hour and a half reported that the increasingly gusty conditions began to take effect as he neared the finish.

Karen Rogers of Sunnyside was one of the fortunate swimmers who managed to beat the breeze, finishing 23rd overall among women in 1:10.53.

“I had a different plan of attack,” she said of her strategy, which included hugging the north shore of the lake before cutting back to the middle later in the race.

The plan worked, as Rogers posted almost the exact time for which she had hoped after an eight-year hiatus from the event.

“It was really great,” she said of the swim. “It was a lovely day and was tons of fun.”

Defending champion Erik Scalise of Reno again took the top spot overall with a time of 54:42, while Susan Preston placed first among women in 55:23.

The course record, set in 1988, stands at 50:29, said Laura Hanson, race director for the Donner Lake Open Water Swim.

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