Fresh water offers swimmers fresh thrills

Locals look for long distances in the open water
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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With each stroke out in the open water, surrounded by towering pines and the sound of nothing but quiet, Steve Casprite feels that much further from the hustle of life and the concrete confines of a pool. It’s a quiet the Auburn Sharks and Whitney High swim coach has grown to love. Now an open water swim in Lake Sugarpine is just 15 minutes from his door, just like when he was a lifeguard as a teenager. Casprite is among the many local swimmers who have turned to fresh water for their aquatic fix. “I was a lifeguard on the So Cal coast. We had open water camp for lifeguards,” Casprite said. “We would run and swim Huntington Beach. Over the course of it you’d run 12 miles and swim 4.4 (miles).” Since then, open water swimming has developed into a professional sport and an Olympic Trial Event. U.S. Masters Swim holds open water swims all over the country at a less advanced level. Casprite said the difference between open water swimming and traditional swim events, is like the difference between cross country to track. Open water swimmers are looking for distance and a change of scenery, according to Casprite. “Certain people would rather swim in a lake, ocean or river than a pool. It’s more interesting. It’s not tedious,” Casprite said. “You are swimming from point A to point B instead of doing repeats on a wall, which is fun, but there is more to see.” Casprite said that while that can sound easy to people, even long-time swimmers have to learn the proper techniques for making the transition to fresh water. Swimming straight and getting into a cadence are the pillars of successful open water swimming, according to Casprite. Mastering those things means swimmers can compete in locations like Oahu and in the San Francisco Bay. For Casprite though, the lure of open water competitions is no longer what draws him to the water. “I have a cadence that works now. It’s just quiet,” Casprite said. “It’s just you and the water. All of the noise of life is just filtered out.” Casprite, who also works as a special education teacher at Penryn Elementary School, said he has noticed that children with Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder especially benefit from open water swimming. “Children with ADD and ADHD love the water environment. They don’t have filters to shut that out,” Casprite said. “When they get in the water to swim the world is quiet for the first time. They love that quiet. I don’t know, maybe I have a little bit of that.” Anthony Giuliani, 19 of Colfax, is also a coach for the Auburn Sharks. He completed his first open water swim, Shark Fest, in 2005 from Alcatraz Prison in the San Francisco Bay. “I feel like it becomes a lot more of a mental game and less of technical,” Giuliani said. “You kind of just get into a rhythm and go. Once you finish it you feel like you accomplished a lot. Your coach isn’t standing on the side yelling at you. It’s you, you’re the one.” Jason Sheldon who manages the Nor Cal Swim Shop in Roseville is also an open water swimmer. He has competed in races all over California, from Donner Lake to Santa Cruz. Sheldon said that for the most part he uses the same gear as he would in the pool, but several other items could be necessary or desirable, depending on conditions. “Some gear that would be specific to open water swimming is wet suits and anti-fog spray on your goggles. You don’t want your goggles to fog up when you are in the middle of the lake,” Sheldon said. Neoprene caps help keep heat from escaping from the head in colder temperatures, according to Sheldon. Ear plugs can be beneficial for the same reason. Wet suits should be specific to swimming or triathlons, so they don’t constrict motion. Sheldon also recommends swimmers go with a partner and wear a brightly colored swim cap, so that they can be spotted easily by boaters. Giuliani said that for those looking to get into the sport, easing in is the best approach. “Start small. Don’t get too ahead of yourself,” Giuliani said. “You don’t want to end up hating it to begin with. That’s just completely defeating.” Reach Sara Seyydin at