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SeattlePioneer

Mile Swim

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We always had a handful of guys doing the mile swim, but after a couple years where the guys did 3 or 4 days of preliminaries then swam 9/10ths of a mile only to be yanked at the first rumble of thunder, the whole program developed a bad rap. The guys who had been burned a couple years would discourage the new guys, telling them it was a waste of time. Consequently it's been a couple years since anyone tried.

 

Here in the southeast, we get thunder EVERY afternoon. At some point you would think the staff would schedule it earlier in the day.

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I don't remember how long it took me to do it, but I was doing it as a "joke" i.e. singing songs, cracking jokes, etc in order keep some of the guys in my troop who took it up to complete it. Whenever I was someone struggling, I'd buddy up with them, talk, sing, whatever it took to get them to focus on completing the swim. We had several 1st and 2nd year campers doing it, as well as me and the other 2 BSA Lifeguard candidates (don't ask, we were told we could do Mile Swim by the AD, and ran into opposition by the AAD who was running Mile Swim). I know I was the last one from my troop to finish.

 

That year we had a Marine MstGnySgt, equivalent to a SarMaj, who did mile swim every week of camp. Don't know if he was Recon or not, but the guy was a fish in the water, and could do the mile in under 30 minutes. He did it freestyle the entire way.

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I went to a camp that offered 2-week sessions, which our Troop took advantage of. I did the mile swim at least 2 times each session. When I was 14, I did it 14 times. I was a competitive swimmer and transitioning from swimming backstroke to swimming long distance. I was about 3-5" shorter than the folks I would be swimming against in backstroke and that does make a difference.

 

The scout reservation had three camps - East, West and Family. All three had a waterfront on the lake. The mile swim was from waterfront to waterfront to waterfront in a counterclockwise triangle. We stayed at west camp so our mile was west to family to east to west.

 

Before going to camp, I had mentioned to my Scoutmaster that I hoped to do the mile swim as many days as I could as practice and training - he said he'd make sure someone would row the boat for me. We told the Aquatics Director when we went the first day for swim checks and, since he already knew me from previous years, said he would help make it happen. On the last day of camp, he had arranged with the east and family camp AD's to "open" their waterfronts before breakfast so I could do a mile swim. Thought that was very nice of him.

 

When I was swimming with other people, it generally took 45 minutes to an hour - depending on how relaxed people were about doing it, and what strokes they were using. I found that most folks would start off with freestyle then switch to a combination of sidestroke and elementary backstroke after about 5 minutes. When I swam alone, I usually took about 30-35 minutes and did it all freestyle.

 

I wasn't able to do the mile swim every day at camp - none on the first day, had an all day raft trip one day, weather closed the waterfront one day, and took a rest day in the middle but I made up for them by doing 2 swims in 1 days. Only one of them was back to back.

 

When I did the back to back, I swam with another Scout from the Troop and when we got back to west camp, asked if I could go again - my SM took over the rowboat, and the AD dared me to go as fast as I could and he would time me. He called the other 2 waterfront directors and said I was going to swim and he wanted to get times from them when I got to their waterfronts. They agreed, he started me, and I took off doing freestyle. Within a couple of minutes, I got into that "zone" we all hear about - and I just cruised. I didn't know how fast I was going, but I just felt good. I rounded past family camp, and apparently had made it there pretty quickly. Left my poor Scoutmaster struggling to catch up. He had announced my time on the radio and said it looked like I was being chased by a northern pike. I had no idea when I got to east camp a few minutes later why their waterfront had stopped activities and everyone was on the dock cheering me on. I also had no idea why I was now being shadowed by a motorboat instead of the row boat. I learned when I got back to west camp that I did the mile in 22 minutes (as timed by the staff), and that the AD at west camp noticed that my poor Scoutmaster couldn't keep up and waved him back and put a staffer in a motorboat to shadow me.

 

The kicker? When I got back home, the coach changed his mind and switched me over to Butterfly.

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I'll be at Camp Pigott in northern Washington State next week as a Camp Commissioner. I'll have to consider doing the mile swim program there.

 

Just missed you then, SeattlePioneer. Our Troop was there last week (you'll already be there as I write this I imagine, checking the new round of Troops in).

 

I didn't do the mile swim, but I did the swim test in the lake, and it was a pretty good temperature. Overall, I think doing a mile swim in a natural body of water rather than a pool is a better experience, though I know some areas of the country have a hard time offering that. We're fortunate up here.

 

Hope you have a great week (had, by the time you read this), but I doubt your group will get a personal message from the International Space Station!

 

 

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WE had 59 at Woodruff, including 7 Scouters. 2 boys (12 and 14) and 1 adult did the Miler. They seemed pretty strict especially about the practice.

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Our troop just got back from a camp (new to us) that has a Mile Swim program I haven't seen before. They do "qualifications". On Monday, they have everyone interested in the Mile Swim do a 1/4 mile qualification swim during the afternoon free swim period. On Thursday, those who have qualified are asked to swim a 1/2 mile qualifier. Anyone who gets through both of those are then allowed to swim the Mile Swim on Thursday afternoon.

 

I suppose you could argue that it is adding to the requirements to have to swim a total of 1-3/4 miles over three days, but the practical aspect of it is that the qualifiers are used to weed out those who are serious about it and capable. I think we had 6 Scouts start out, and ultimately 4 qualified and succeeded. The only complaint I heard was from one Scout, who finished pretty close to last, who had been paired with a very slow swimmer buddy (not from our troop). Our guy had to stop frequently, and tread water, waiting for the other swimmer.

 

Guy

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Could be that the camp is trying to meet requirement 3 .

"3. Under the supervision of a currently qualified certified aquatics instructor, BSA or equivalent, participate in four hours of training and preparation for distance swimming (one hour a day maximum)."

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There is more to the answer of this question than just a number. We had 5 scouts practice for the mile swim during our week at camp, all of whom completed all 4 practice sessions. One broke his arm on Thursday evening, and one, a first year scout, was not able to complete the mile. But the other 3 did finish. These were the first scouts in our troop to complete the mile swim in at least 5 years, possibly longer.

 

Just as importantly for all 3, the mile swim was the last requirement for their Aquatics rocker of their National Outdoor Award.

 

I felt it was a very positive accomplishment these scouts, but it also served as an important stepping stone for our troop, providing a stepping stone for our younger scouts, showing them what can be done. :)

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Calico

I have swam the "Killian Triangle" as well. Our small troop would do it as a summer camp tradition. We would normally have 6 or 7 guys do it each year. (70-90% of campers).

Back in the day, all you needed was two buddies. One to row and one to man the pole and we would alternate and help each other out. I remember doing it a couple of times one year, but 14 is very remarkable

 

 

I have not done it as an adult at Woodruff yet. The mandatory practices take a bite out of my afternoon naps :)

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Thought someone might recognize the camp.

 

I'm pretty sure the only reason I was able to do as many as I did is that I was a water rat, the AD liked me, and I was a competitive swimmer. Ma-ka-ja-wan was pretty accomodating to the Scouts that were competitive swimmers - they had a closed hour once a day for swim team members to use the waterfront for serious practice at the time - right before dinner. You had to let the Aquatics Staff know every day by lunch if you would be swimming during that time - that way, if no one was using the time, they wouldn't have to staff it. Flip turns could be an issue but if you swam the shorter distance between the dock and the floats, it could be done.

 

When I was 15, I was a CIT at Ma-ka-ja-wan - one of the first out-of-council CIT's the camp ever had (the reservation director thought I was the first). During staff training week, it naturally came up that I was the guy that broke the records on number of mile swims and times - and some of the staff challenged me to a race. It was, unfortunately, the only mile swim I had time for that year, but I was at the head of the pack at the finish and had gotten in at 33 minutes so that was ok. So where did a water rat like me end up doing his service? As the camp clerk.

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Here in the southeast, we get thunder EVERY afternoon. At some point you would think the staff would schedule it earlier in the day.

 

We camp somewhere similar, weather-wise (and not too far geographically-speaking, either, I suspect). The camp schedules the mile swim at 11:00am on Thursdays. In addition to being in the morning, the time also gives them options for running additional chances.

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As a youth I attempted the mile swim in my first year. Since i was not successful myself, I admire it when my scouts attempt the feat. This year we had 6 scouts complete it along with two adults. One first year scout completed it at age 10 and was recognized by the camp for his achievement. Another (competitive swimmer) completed it in 16:30 setting the camp best time for the summer. This is swimming in Lake Marriott at Goshen Scout Reservation. These kids always amaze me.

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At summer camp, we usually have a couple out of about 25 boys complete the mile ... then do a 5 mile hike after breakfast, and a 4 mile canoe trip after lunch. Never bothered with the first three requirements, but these kids are usually earning swimming or lifesaving at the same time, so we never worried about it. Have yet to see a boy order the mile swim patch.

 

Anyway, just came from Seabase Bahamas and Capt. anchored at a substantial distance from the reefs, so some of the snorkels were pretty hard swims, even with flippers. Unless they had been conditioning for soccer all summer, the youth who had not done mile swims before took a couple of days to get into the routine.

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We only had 3 of our 44 Scouts complete the Mile this year, mainly because the other Scouts who would normally swim it put together a team for the Woodruff Banana Relay. We not only won the event, but our team set a new Summer 2011 record (we were there week 7). Most of them have several Mile Swim patches already.

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