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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Learning From The Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean

If a new race director ever wanted to undergo an intensive and comprehensive on-the-job training on how to conduct an open water race, they would be well-served to head to Roberval in Québec, Canada and learn at the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean.

For 60 years, the Organizing Committee has been setting the standards for professional and amateur lake swimming. For decades, the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean has been considered one of the premier open water swimming competitions in the world for multitude reasons.

Besides the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix and the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup races, the committee also conducts races and training camps for amateurs.

The Traversée du Lac St Jean Inc. Organizing Committee is under the able leadership of Eric Juneau, General Manager, Roger Guillemette and Sarto Parent.

The committee structure is professionally organized with all sub-committees functioning with a specific mission. Committee members all know their assigned tasks and perform them with a smile, enthusiasm and professional efficiency, always with the athletes in mind.

Everything from offering a hospital unit to treat hypothermia and prop guards for the escort boats to recycling waste products and providing translation services, the committee sets the standard for international competitions.

Remarkably enough, some individuals are third-generation volunteers with their parents and grandparents serving in various capacities throughout the history of the race.

Accommodations for the professional athletes and their coaches are excellent at the Hotel Chateau Roberval. Most meals are provided at the hotel, although some meals are provided at the race headquarters at Place de la Traversée.

Dr. Christine Lord is responsible for medical issues that may occur with facilities that are unparalleled in the world of open water swimming.

With a hospitality second-to-none, the organizing committee provides a timely shuttle service for swimmers, race administrators, and officials in addition to bus transportation to all major activities.

And most importantly feedback from the athletes is dealt with immediately and with professional consideration. In 2012, for example, the swimmers requested that a different wrist strap for their transponders. They expressed their desire for a change because the original ones seemed too large and water-absorbent. Their request was handled quickly when the committee substituted plastic straps.

Safety is always on the foremost of their minds with the security boats providing a safety net on the water with 16 boats. All drivers, lifeguards and guides in the safety and official boats are required to use life jackets and include Canadian army, provincial police, and security boats with blankets and towels always at the ready. When a distressed swimmer is pulled from the water, medical assistance is provided by assigned teams on the water who arrange for immediate transport to the Traversée's medical facility at the finish of the race. The facility is a 12-bed fully-staffed medical receiving unit that can provide first aid and medical assistance as necessary.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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