Early morning breakfast, a pep talk at the sailing bleachers and then into the canoes for 35 Bec and Bago campers attempting the 60th annual Lake Swim. Having completed a series of “Lake Swim Preps,” the participants are well prepared for the swim in Echo Lake. Each camper is designated a canoe and a lifeguard who paddles the camper south 1 ¼ miles down the eastern leg of Echo Lake. The camper disembarks and waits for the start of the swim. “Ready, Set, Go” and the campers swim north aiming for the end of the lake. Swimmers, donned in neon yellow caps, are followed closely by their lifeguard. Initially chatty and excited, the swimmers soon settle into a rhythm as they focus on the task ahead. 2014 Lake Swimmers completed the distance in times ranging from 35 minutes to just over an hour. Tired, but happy, the swimmers look forward to lunch; not just for the food, but for the pride in seeing their names joining those of past swimmers permanently displayed on wooden plaques along the walls of Tanager Dining Room.
Historically the swim began in 1954 at Camp Laurel located at Lake Awosting in New York State. Awosting is 1 ¼ miles long. When Laurel moved to Maine, a new swim was created in the image of the old. While the aim of the swim is simply to complete the distance, campers are still timed. Current record holders are Jon Ritter (1981) 25’ 16” and Saori MacInnes (2009) 29’ 39”.