By McCalee Cain
Community fun, delicious food and invigorating exercise are the holy trinity of one of Sandpoint’s most beloved summer traditions: the Long Bridge Swim. On Saturday, Aug. 4, well over 700 people will again flock to Lake Pend Oreille to swim 1.76 miles for the 24th year running.
“You’re sure to know a few people who are doing the swim, and you can actually follow along and watch them do it which you just can’t do with most open-water swims, so that’s very cool,” said Long Bridge Swim Director Jim Zuberbuhler.
Zuberbuhler described a wide demographic of participants returning for the swim.
“We’ll have people from 15 to 20 different states, and 50 plus Canadians do it each year, so we have a great turnout. We even have a group of swimmers that come from Barcelona, Spain, every year, so we’ve got quite an international group.”
As always, the top priority of the Long Bridge Swim is the well-being of its participants. Around 180 volunteers will focus exclusively on safety, half of which will be on the water in kayaks.
“Safety is a really a big deal, because they’ll be quite a few people who will be doing it for the first time and aren’t quite sure if they can swim that far,” Zuberbuhler said.
The event isn’t all business, though: Winter Ridge Natural Foods will be providing food for the post-swim celebration.
“I can’t tell you how many gallons of huckleberry ice cream we go through at the end,” Zuberbuhler laughed. “It’s a really big celebration at the end because there’s a real sense of accomplishment with being able to do (the swim).”
Registration will be open online through Thursday evening at longbridgeswim.org. The last chance to register will be on Friday at Sandpoint High School from 5:30-7 p.m.; same-day registration is not allowed.
“We really encourage people to try it, even if they aren’t sure they can make it, we can help them,” Zuberbuhler said.