Swimmers race in recreational canal
It was a perfect day for a swimming competition at the Welland International Flatwater Centre on Sunday according to Ian Feldman.
Feldman is the owner of Canaqua Sports and race director for Canaqua’s Canadian Masters Open Water Swimming Championships event, which was held at the flatwater centre Sunday.
He said 120 people registered for the event, which featured one-kilometre, 2.5-kilometre, five-kilometre and 10-kilometre races on Welland’s recreational canal.
“This is perfect conditions. Not too warm, the water temperature is right on and it’s been good,” Feldman said as the last swimmers were out in the water.
He said it’s the first year the event has been held at the flatwater centre, which he praises as a “world-class facility.” He said the city has also been great in working with him to set up the event and make sure everything runs smoothly.
Ages among the competitors ranged from 12 years old to over 80 and they swam their races until around noon, with the last group of swimmers taking off in the water just after 11 a.m.
Feldman said the biggest challenges in an open water course such as the flatwater centre is, first and foremost, that there are no walls, and then nutrition for the longer races is also a challenge.
For the 10-kilometre race, swimmers were out on the water for several hours. There was a “feeding” station set up along the dock right in front of the centre’s bleachers, where there were drinks and other sources of nutrition for the swimmers. They weren’t able to touch the dock and then had to be back on their way swimming around the course.
Feldman said another challenge is more personal and finding the drive to keep going, especially when you’ve broken away from the pack and are out swimming by yourself.
Doctor Karen Fleming, the deputy chief of the department of family and community medicine at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, who was at the championship event, said swimming is a great way to keep active no matter what age you are, and swimming as a sport also plays into maintaining a sense of community and being social.
She said exercise is the best way to stave off diseases and keep healthy overall.
Feldmen said he’s got his eye on the flatwater centre for next year’s event.
“I’ll be coming back for the next 10 years if they’ll have me,” he said, noting that now that he’s had the event here, he’s not going to give it up so easily.