Swimmers will brave icy waters of Grand Lake to benefit hospice | SkyHiNews.com

Swimmers will brave icy waters of Grand Lake to benefit hospice

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado

Open-water swimming may not be the first activity that comes to mind for Colorado’s largest natural lake, Grand Lake.

Never before has a swim race taken place in the chilly alpine waters, but Jennifer Neumann of Heart of the Mountains Hospice aims to change that through an event scheduled for August 15.

Heart of the Mountains’ – and Grand Lake’s – first swimming race will serve as a pledge drive for the organization. Heart of the Mountains, like many nonprofit organizations in the area, is being affected by donor funds drying up in the state of a crippled economy.

The answer? Get wet.

Most likely in wet suits and swim fins in the 60-degree lake. As many as 100 swimmers may navigate their way from Point Park to the town beach, rain or shine, Neumann said.

The length of the course is 0.54 miles, or about 38 lengths of a 25-yard pool.

For the average swimmer, it would take about 15 minutes to swim the course.

“We were trying to think of something unique, with all the outstanding athletes in the county and around the state, we thought we’d come up with a new event in hopes of turning it into an annual event,” Neumann said.

Heart of the Mountains has lined up emergency responders to be at the race along with volunteers in boats to ensure swimmer safety, she said.

Participants will be given complimentary swim caps before the race and hot beverages and homemade baked goods following the race. A shuttle is lined up to transport swimmers from the pre-race registration at the town beach to the Point Park start.

Heart of the Mountains is a nonprofit organization that provides quality end-of-life nursing care to anyone in Grand County, as well as support to families taking care of loved ones who are terminally ill.

“Most people, if given a choice, would prefer to die in their own home in their own bed surrounded by things that are precious to them and people who love them,” Neumann said. Heart of the Mountain initially started as a volunteer service about 12 years ago.

At any given time, about three to seven Grand County residents are in hospice, with an average stay in hospice from one to two weeks, according to Neumann, a former emergency-room registered nurse in Grand County.

The goal of the swim event is to raise $10,000 to cover the hospice organization’s operating costs, such as nursing compensation, a director’s salary and office space. For swim participants, the minimum entry fee – or sum of pledges – to enter the race is $100.

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@skyhidailynews.com.