Sandpoint Sharks swim to raise funds
By Colin Anderson
The Long Bridge is the unofficial welcome mat to Sandpoint. Anyone coming up from the south receives the instant beauty shot while traveling over Lake Pend Oreille before ending in the heart of downtown. It’s a stunning view from a vehicle, but how’s the view from the water?
Avid swimmers from near and far will let you know after completing the 1.76-mile Long Bridge Swim, which is back again for 2021.
Some 9,000 swimmers have completed the swim over the past two and a half decades, some as young as 7 and others well into their 80s. It’ll be held on the morning of Saturday, August 7, and several hundred people are expected to participate. Some of those include members of the Sandpoint Sharks club swim team. “We have 15 swimmers on the swim team participating in the Long Bridge Swim, plus myself and my assistant coach, Emily,” explained Head Coach Sara Kuhn. “For the Mini-Bridge, we have about 15 kids participating so far, and they will be swimming .25 miles at City Beach.”
Kuhn recently took over the team and is excited to see such active participation in this community event. She’s been impressed with her team’s dedication to the sport, the extended practice hours and time in the gym. While she wants to continue to challenge her swimmers, she knows that fun is also a big part of the experience. “As for my goals, I really want to inspire and improve each and every swimmer in the pool while having fun!”
Since 2010, proceeds from the Long Bridge Swim have gone to help cover the cost of swimming lessons for children in the local community. This year, the Sandpoint Sharks will also be fundraising during the event. Donations will help with gear like caps, shirts, hoodies, bags and towels for the team, travel and lodging expenses for the coaches, swim equipment, banquet expenses, coach conferences, and fees for offsite training. Donations will be taken during the event.
Another aspect that makes this swim so unique is the ability to follow a competitor throughout the race. In many open swims, spectators just see the start and finish, but as this one travels alongside the Long Bridge, you can move along with the pack or track your friend or family member from the sidewalk along the bridge.
With such a beautiful lake and setting in which to swim, Sara is hoping that watching these distance swimmers might encourage even more people to take up the sport she loves so dearly. “Swimming is such an amazing community to be a part of, and I would love to get more people involved,” she said.