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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Marathon Swimmers Accept Risks Outside The Open Water

Professional marathon swimmers understand, accept, and plan for the inherent risks of their sport. Hypothermia, hyperthermia, marine life, wind, waves, lightening. Accidents, mishaps, injuries can all happen.

But swimmers participating in the 3 professional marathon swims in Québec, Canada face an unusual risk: moose, the solitary-minded deer of North America.

With the 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean, 34 km Traversée Internationale du lac Memphrémagog, and the 10 km Traversee international du Lac Mégantic held over 3 consecutive weekends in July and August, the swimmers often drive from city to city in Québec in order to compete in each event.

The young swimmers and their coaches share rental cars or catch rides from friends and volunteers. But as Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean General Manager Eric Juneau advices, "Drive slower than normal and check more closely both sides of the road for moose, especially at night. When a moose crosses the road in a trot, good luck.

I am a moose hunter. 15 years ago on a Friday night, the day before the hunting season, I was driving 110 kilometers per hour in Laurentide Park on my way back to Montreal. I was just nearing the top of a hill and a moose was also crossing, running. I hit the brakes hard, turned the wheel, and just barely avoided the moose. It was pure luck that no one else was coming the other way. It was just like a dream: it happened too quickly
."

Photo shows Petar Stoychev, history's most successful professional marathon swimmer who spent 11 summers driving around Québec. Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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