Moore to Host Open Water Meet This Weekend
Approximately 600 swimmers will converge on Moore County this weekend for the N.C. Open Water Championships.
The third largest age group race in the country, the event, hosted annually by the Sandhills Sandsharks swim club, will run Friday through Saturday at Seven Lakes’ Lake Echo.
Races ranging from 400 meters to 5 kilometers will feature competitors ranging in age from 10 and under to college swimmers, and for the first time this year, there will be open competitions, with five races open to any competitor of any age.
“We had Masters races in the past, but you had to join,” said race director Taylor Cooper. “The (open competitions are) unique in that you don’t have to join anything to compete, just register, and we have separate insurance for it.”
Cooper said the biggest race is the 5 kilometer, which is scheduled for Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. In the past, the race has drawn swimmers who placed in the NCAA championships.
Over the years, open water swimming has become widely recognized as an international sport. In the summer of 2008 in Beijing, the first Olympic 10K open water gold medals were awarded.
The N.C. Open Water Championships have drawn some of the best open water swimmers in the world since its inception. Champions have included Chip Peterson, a 2008 member of the U.S. Olympic open water team, and Olympic bronze medalist and former American 1,500-meter freestyle record holder Chris Thompson.
The Sandhills Sandsharks first hosted their open water event in 1998. It was called the Sandhills Sandsharks Open Water Swim, and it drew 47 competitors.
Competitors numbered approximately 540 last year. Along with families and spectators, Cooper expects the event to bring about 2,000 people to the area.
The event is held under the sanctions of USA Swimming, Inc. GPS chips will be used for timing.
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