Good news for North Bay Tour de Trout swimmers.
There was uncertainly over whether the swim would actually take place this summer due to COVID-19 restrictions, but it has just been announced that season five of the Tour will return to Trout Lake twice a week starting Tuesday, August 4th.
“Phase 3 which lifted some restrictions allowing for more people in an outdoor location is why we are able to go back into the water,” said founding member Johanne Brousseau.
“There has been a positive response from people wanting the Tour to start up again. Everybody is glad that we figured out how to do this.”
Land coordinator Chantal Brousseau said she too has been hearing from participants anxious to get back into the water as a group.
“People are really excited to be back because they don’t have a lot to do right now. There are not a lot of their normal activities or events that they can participate in, keeping in mind we will be distancing ourselves,” said Chantal.
“We are going to follow all the protocols. We’re going to make sure everybody is six feet apart when they are getting ready, and when they’re entering the water. Also, the kayakers will be social distancing.”
The number of participants and the length of the swims have been scaled back with swimmers expected to be capped at 30.
“Even though there will be fewer people, I think the level of energy and excitement will be the same as last year,” said Chantal.
At the beginning of each swim, participants will be required to fill out a health questionnaire.
Another change this year requires swimmers to start and finish at the same host dock, essentially doing loops.
In the past swimmers would start at one dock, finishing at another further down the lake.
“We’re not going around the lake this year. We are actually doing the swims at nine different spots around the lake,” Brousseau explained.
Part of the reason for the change is the cancellation of shuttle services.
“We really had to modify things with COVID-19. Normally we would shuttle swimmers, but with COVID-19 we are not shuttling anybody,” said Chantal.
“In the past, because we were going from one place to another, with my niece Julie’s help you could find us lugging 40 to 45 pairs of sandals or shoes from one point to the other as well as car keys and other personal belongings. We won’t be doing that as well this year. We won’t be touching personal belongings.”
In mid-March, COVID forced the closure of the YMCA where swimmers would typically practice twice a week in the months leading up to the outdoor event.
The length of the swims will be shorter this year because as Brousseau puts it, most of them are “out of swimming shape.”
“We are restricting registration to previous participants and to the ones that started training with me at the pool this winter because for them when they registered for training, part of it was to cover their fee for Tour de Trout. They will be coming with me to swim on two occasions next week to get comfortable swimming in the lake and swimming in a group,” said Brousseau.
“The group will start with a distance of 0.8 kilometres, increasing as they progress over the weeks to 1.2 kilometres. Long-distance swimmers will finish around the 2.3-kilometre mark.”
Tour de Trout also serves as a fundraiser for the YMCA.
Last year’s fundraising total was roughly $6,000. The goal for this year before COVID hit was $10,000.
“For us, it was a matter of ‘Do we not do anything this year? What will happen next year?’ We want to keep the event alive so offering it in a very modified way in our opinion is better than not having one at all,” said Chantal.
Brousseau says while previous sponsors may not be in a position to help financially, swimmers can still make donations to the ‘Y.’
“Participants are asked to go to the YMCA site and select Strong Kids North Bay and donate $60.00 to participate so they’ll still have something. Next year we will hopefully have more participants and more community involvement.”
Depending on weather delays, the tour expects to wrap up August 31.