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Monday, November 20, 2017

Getting Lucky In Lake Cane

Courtesy of WOWSA, Lake Cane, Orlando, Florida.

In 1989, Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer started a daily 1 km lake swim in Lake Cane that begins in his backyard at his home that sits on the shoreline of the lake.

Lucky’s Lake Swim in Orlando, Florida, is a free swim that has achieved cult status with open water swimmers and triathletes. Tens of thousands of swimmers from across the world have completed the swim.

It is also known as the Aquatica 1K and is one of America's Top 100 Open Water Swims.

Nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Meisenheimer invited friends and the masters swimmers who he coached at the YMCA Aquatic Center to join him on his morning lake swim. Initially the swim was held on Saturdays, but after the first year the frequency increased to four days a week. In 1995, it became a daily swim except for Sundays.

Originally, the morning swim was limited to the months of April through October. But in 2005 the swim went year round. The weekday swims, which always start at 6:30 am. On Saturdays and holidays, the swims start at 7:45 am.

In 1999, swimmers began signing their names to a wall on the back of Dr. Meisenheimer's house after they completed 1 km course. Now there is an eclectic mix of accomplishments listed on the wall some that include; Olympic swimmers and water polo players, national swim champions from multiple countries, swimming world record holders, a parachuting champion, a hang gliding world record holder, a sailing champion, a unicycle champion, and numerous Ironman triathletes. In 2004, Disney artist Ron McDonald added a swimming mural to the wall. In 2008, the wall had to be expanded to allow for more names.

Dr. Meisenheimer continues to open his home - and provide awards - to all-comers who have come from over 60 countries.

On completion of a swimmer's first swim, they receive a patch with the logo of the swim, a bumper sticker, and get to sign the wall of fame. On their 25th crossing, swimmers receive a white racing cap with the logo. On their 100th crossing, swimmers are inducted into the 100K club, their name is highlighted in yellow on the wall of fame, a bio is posted on the website, and they receive a baseball cap with the Lake Cane monster logo. At their 150th crossing, swimmers receive a yellow racing cap; on their 200th crossings, they receive a T-shirt, and at their 500th crossing, they receive a silver racing cap.

In 2007, International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer Yuko Matsuzaki swam the lake's longest solo swim with 82 crossings (82 km) in 29 hours 55 minutes. A year later, she completed a 83 km charity swim of 83 km in 33 hours 24 minutes.

While Dr. Meisenheimer himself has done over 20,000 crossings, a local dog named Digger completed the swim 100 times in 2011 [see video below]. The range of swimmers include 6-year-old Jake Meisenheimer to 85-year-old Gene Augustin who also participate in various charity swims include the Frogman Black Ops 5K swim.

The 50-something year old was nominated for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year among the following individuals:

1. Evgenij Pop Acev (Macedonia)
2. Antonio Argüelles (Mexico)
3. John Batchelder (USA)
4. Guillermo Bertola (Argentina)
5. Avram Iancu (Romania)
6. Stéphane Lecat (France)
7. Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer (USA)
8. Lynton Mortensen (Australia)
9. Simone Ruffini (Italy)
10. Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria)
11. Sayed Ihsan Taheri (Afghanistan)
12. Ferry Weertman (Netherlands)
13. Philip Yorke (Great Britain)

Dr. Meisenheimer's nomination reads, Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer walks out of his home to one of the most social, sincerely welcoming open water swimming clubs in the world. Lake Cane in Orlando, Florida has been home to tens of thousands of visitors and local swimmers who swim the famed 1 km circular venue whether they are training for the English Channel or just a way to stay young and fit. Dr. Meisenheimer has created an open water swimming nirvana through his passion for the sport, relentless flow of information, and his own engaging personality. From Olympians and celebrities to octogenarians and newcomers, the personable skin cancer surgeon opens his aquatic paradise to all-comers. For over 3 decades, he has hosted multiple competitions including Lucky’s Lake Swim, an official Historic Event of Central Florida, and created The Lake Cane Restoration Society, a non-profit organization to promote restoration of Florida waterways. Across generations, he has cheerfully inspired many of all ages and walks of life to take up open water swimming and achieve personal challenges. For his creativity of organizing an ideal ambiance for swimming in central Florida, for his hospitality in welcoming a vast number of swimmers to his backyard lake, for continuously promoting open water swimming, Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

To register and vote on the WOWSA Awards and the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year here.

For more information, visit here.

Copyright © 2008-2017 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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