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Over the years as SM I have done 25 "official" mile swims at various camps throughout California. My last one was two years ago at Tahquitz when I was 65. During the preliminary quarter, I had my upper denture come loose and fall into my mouth, prompting me to swim to the edge and call the twenty something female director to please come and get them. She was a bit shocked I think. When I did the longer swim, I simply removed them ahead of time. Have done it in the ocean at Emerald Bay and Cherry Valley (had to swim part in open water at that time; was told they stay in the cove now); 6 times in Shaver Lake, always starting at 6AM when the water is warmer than the air; and in various pools or lake special swimming areas. Best time was somewhere around 37 minutes at Shaver when I was in my 30's; last time was an hour and 22 minutes. I do not stop or put feet down; it is a matter of principle.


Have been to a couple camps that were qualifying swimmers for doing it incrementally; and I did point out to them they were bending the intent of the award. Yes, many swimmers in pools hang on, put feet down, and so on; but most of the time someone keeps them more or less moving.


Had one older scout who did it completely with the elementary backstroke, as he could not do anything else. If he could have mastered swimming, he likely would have Eagled; but he was only first class, due to the swimming problems. Ironically, he became an Army officer and ranger, and now has just been listed for advancement to Lt. Colonel. Served in Bosnia, and just returning from a 3rd in Iraq, with 2 in Afghanistan.


Had one 75 pound 11 year old do it at Shaver with no problem, having just finished lifeguard in the Pacific the week before camp. The next year, hardly any heavier, he got hypothermia half way through, scaring the heck out of me and the staffer helping. It was only first stage, as we responded to his complaining of being cold; but it was a lesson. Had one parent at Emerald Bay decide to do it with his son; his shorts kept sliding down, so he decided to take them off, much to his son's chagrin. He could not understand why that was perhaps a problem in this day and age; though he did put them on before actually getting out.


It is true though that swimming the mile has been a major point of pride a number of times for a few boys who struggled with other things.


Not sure if I will do any more, as my body is beginning to object to a lot of things. Still, may, you just never know.

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My first "Mile Swim" turn into more like 2 or 3 miles, took over and hour.


I was swimming offshore the Outer Banks of NC, when a riptide eroded the bottom and sucked me out.


Most of my stroke for that swim was Treading Water. I had two swim in the last 300 yards or so.

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Since Eng brought it up, it's always a good policy to review riptides with your kids before they hit the beach.




My kids got caught in one in NJ a couple of years ago. They knew exactly what to do, and got to shore no worse for the long walk back. My wife watch it happen and told me they were in control the whole time.

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