Swimming for fun or for training at Sasamat Lake + Olympic Training Log: July 9-July 15

* For basic info about Sasamat Lake, please read my “quick tips” post here.

Summer swimming training 1988 and 2012

Sasamat Lake: White Pine Beach (family side) looking south

Summer finally arrived in Vancouver this week and all feels right with my world again.

I’ve seldom in my life had to work full-time hours during the summer. Maybe that’s one reason why summer has always been my favourite season, a time inextricably linked with freedom, heat, lazy reading, and—swimming.

I don’t mean swimming in the horrible, chlorine-permeated prison of an indoor pool, but swimming in the glorious expanse of a lake. Below the water’s surface is a refreshing cold that shocks the body out of its summer torpor and gives it a magical weightlessness. Above is the huge bowl of a blue sunny sky and a horizon of trees and beach.

When I was a kid, the highlight of the year for my brothers and me was the two weeks we spent with our parents and another family at cottages near Parry Sound, on Lake Shebeshekong. (Almost all the lakes in Ontario have Indian-sounding names.)

Sasamat Lake, near Ioco and Port Moody

But ever since I moved to Vancouver 22 years ago, I’ve been able to swim at Sasamat Lake on almost every nice summer day. It’s only a 15-minute drive for me to get there. I might only stay for 30 minutes or an hour, but the plunge into the cold water makes me feel wonderful no matter how overtired or overheated I am before going in.

Swimming at Sasamat is not a workout for me; it’s a time to escape, relax, and daydream. I usually can’t stay in the water for longer than 10 minutes without getting hypothermic. I’m considering getting a wetsuit, but I don’t want to lose the fun of swimming there. I like the feel of water against my body and I know I’ll resent the bother of struggling in and out of a wetsuit.

After my brief swims, I’m usually sleepy. I like to lie face down and doze in and out of consciousness. The background sounds of the beach are soothing and hypnotic. On quieter days I hear the intermittent happy shrieks of kids playing and the mundane conversations of the adults watching them. On weekends, when the beach is packed with teenagers, there is sure to be a boom box creating a steady beat in the background. The overall noise level is high, but it’s still just background. Sometimes I hear some amusing teenage conversations nearby; overall, the banality of beach chatter is astounding, but occasionally I get to eavesdrop on an intriguing conversation.

Abebe at Sasamat Lake

My son Abebe and his girlfriend Chihiro at Sasamat Lake in 2011

Sometimes I go to Sasamat Lake with a friend; more often, I’m alone, cherishing the relaxation I find there. Being “alone in the crowd” can be a good thing when it’s your choice. Sometimes I people-watch; sometimes I read; sometimes my iPod music helps me drift off to sleep.

Triathlon training at Sasamat Lake

The lake is a popular summer training area for “real” swimmers and triathletes. They can most often be spotted around 9 or 10 a.m. on weekend mornings, a time I don’t favour myself because the water is still cold. Triathletes are instantly recognizable as they wear wetsuits and swim, rather than just playing in the water as 99.9% of the other beach visitors do.

Triathletes enjoy the three-part lake circuit they can cover: In stage 1 they swim from the “family beach” to the bridge (with accompanying fishing dock) that crosses the lake near its southern end. In stage 2 they swim north to the western beach at Sasamat Camp. Stage 3 takes them straight east across the lake to the “teenagers’ beach” where the concession stand is located. I believe the entire circuit covers about 2K.

One way to get in a challenging workout and enjoy the refreshing cold of the lake even more is to cycle or run to the lake from downtown Port Moody. You will cover a distance of approximately 7K (from Newport Village), mostly uphill. The route is safer and more enjoyable if you take the trails, bike path and small residential street until you reach the intersection of Ioco Road and April Road; you then have to follow the main roads to the park entrance for about 3 km.


As I look back at my Olympic Training Log I see that swim workouts were still a big part of my training schedule, less than three months before the Olympics. I still wasn’t doing a lot of running, but I was beginning to run fast. This week I put my spikes on to run sprints on a golf course—I was still afraid to sprint on a track with my heel bursitis. But my first track race of the season was coming up July 16: ready or not! It would be my first race of any kind since the heel bursitis forced me to stop running at the end of April.

July 9, 1988

Rest day—just walked 6 miles, did some swimming in ocean. [Where? I am completely baffled by this entry. There is no ocean near Toronto and I don’t remember travelling anywhere for two days.] Heel sore today.

July 10, 1988

AM: Walked to gravel paths, ran 40 min at good pace, very hot. Heel very sore first 5 min, pain didn’t completely disappear. Jogged back to beach, did a little swimming. Heel OK after, felt better than yesterday. About 6½ miles.

July 11, 1988

AM: Swim at Douglas Snow. 1050m warmup. 3 sets of 200m, 150m, 100m. Times good—pool really empty. 100s—about 1:50.

PM: Weights—“pull-endurance” plus leg extension, situps. 69 min followed by 10 min on bike.

July 12, 1988

AM: Ran almost 32 min hard on golf course with Paul, followed by 4 x 45 sec on fairway with 30 sec rest. Ran fast with spikes. Heel very sore at first, also twingeing a bit at end, but improving later in day. 5½ miles.

PM: Bike workout at gym. 10 sets 3 min bike, hamstring curls, bar pull to stomach, followed by 14 min on Lifecycle levels 9, 7, and 6. About 72 min total. Felt good.

July 13, 1988

AM: Did “push-strength” workout at club, focused on bench press with George helping. Also knee lift with cable, incline leg lifts, squats, leg extension. Worked hard 64 min, plus 5–10 min bounding drills and 10 min on bike.

PM: Swim workout at Fitness Institute. 1025m about 20:50. 10 x 100m, going every 2¼ min—about 1:50–1:55—in real lactic acid by last 3. 6 x 50m going every 1:15. Felt very tired after dinner.

July 14, 1988

AM: Ran 30 min hard on golf course with Paul. Felt tired and stiff from weights, weather very hot and humid. Did 4 x 600m in spikes with 90 sec rest. About 6 miles. Heel very sore in warmup.

AM-2: Did pool running workout at Fitness Institute. Amost 10 min warmup, then 6 x 1 min with rope (30 sec rest) and 4 x 30 sec with rope (1 min rest). Worked very hard. A couple minutes’ warmdown running plus 100m swimming. Heel a bit sore during day.

July 15, 1988

AM: Did 1,800m continuous swim at Fitness Institute, 38:15.

This week: 18 miles running, 1hr04 min stationary bike, 3 swim workouts, 1 water-running workout, 2 weight workouts.

About nancytinarirunswrites

I used to be known as a competitive runner, but now I have a new life as a professional writer and editor. I'm even more obsessive about reading, writing, and editing than I was about running. Running has had a huge influence on my life, though, and runner's high does fuel creativity. Maybe that's why this blog evolved into being 95% about running, but through blogging I'm also learning about writing and online communication. I'm fascinated by how the Internet has changed work, learning, and relationships. I love to connect in new and random ways!
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1 Response to Swimming for fun or for training at Sasamat Lake + Olympic Training Log: July 9-July 15

  1. Pingback: Quick tips for your outing at Sasamat Lake | NancyRuns&Writes

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