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Foster Lake Cable Swims is an event hosted by Central Oregon Masters Aquatics at Foster Lake near Sweet Home, Oregon. As one of the few permanent cable swim courses, Foster Lake often hosts the USMS 1-Mile and 2-Mile National Championships. 2021 features the USMS 2-Mile Cable National Championships.

Event Information

All registrations for the Foster Lake Cable Swims MUST be completed via the on-line registration system.  Click on the link immediately below to register for the Lake Swims. Registration closes on Thursday June 17, 2021 and no Day of Race entries allowed.

LOCATION & COURSE:  Foster Lake is a scenic reservoir located just off U.S. Route 20 east of Sweet Home, OR.  Lewis Creek Park, located on the northeast corner of the lake, will be the event venue. The course is a 0.25 mile length of cable surveyed & certified accurate to national cable swim standards.  Water temperature on this weekend in June has varied from 67-71 degrees Fahrenheit and will be posted at the event.

2-Mile Cable swim (featuring the USMS 2-Mile Championship), seeded accordingly.
1-Mile Cable swim for USMS swimmers, seeded accordingly.

SWIM SCHEDULE (subject to change due to conditions):
6:45 am          Lewis Creek Park opens for swimmers
7:15 am          Check-in and warm-up opens for all swims
8:00 am         Check-in closes for 2-Mile Swim
8:05 am          Pre-race meeting, marshaling and swim to the start for 2-Mile Swim
8:30 am         Start of 2-Mile Cable Swim 
10:00 am        Check-in closes for One-Mile Swim
10:20 am        Warm-up closes, Mandatory Pre-race meeting and marshaling for 1-Mile Swim
10:45 am       Start of the 1-Mile swim
10:45 am        Early Lunch Distribution (for those not swimming 1-Mile)
11:40 am        Awards ceremony for both swims
12:15 pm        Relay entries close

SAFETY – OUR PRIMARY CONCERN:  All swims will be unescorted. Spotters in safety boats will monitor the entire course in zone coverage and medical personnel will be on-site.  Swimmers must wear a brightly-colored swim cap provided, have their race number on their arms (or hands when wearing sleeved wetsuits), and follow all announced safety rules without exception.   

ELIGIBILITY:  Open ONLY to adults (18 years of age or older on the day of the event) who are current USMS members or foreign equivalents.  Eligibility will be verified through the online entry system.  For swimmers who are not USMS members, USMS “One-Event” (OEVT) membership—good for all swims—is available with entry for $15. One-Event members are not eligible for the 2-Mile National Championship but may swim in a separate non-championship category.

QUALIFYING TIME:  Swimmers who cannot swim 1650-yards or 1500-meters in 40 minutes MAY NOT ENTER these events.  It’s for safety! Swimmers on the 2-mile course longer tha 1:30 may be stopped and listed as DNF/DQ.

SEEDING:  For all swims, swimmers will be seeded fastest to slowest by 1650-yard or 1500-meter pool time.  ‘No Time’ entries will not be accepted.  It is to your great advantage to enter a current & accurate pool time with no adjustments!  Seeding changes will not be allowed after the heat sheet is posted.

ENTRY LIMITS:  The entire event—including all swims—is limited to the first 180 registrants. We will maintain a waiting list if early registrants drop out early enough to notify others.

ENTRY FEE:  One swim $40 and two swims $55.  Entry fee includes a swim cap and a post-swim meal.

OMS SANCTION SURCHARGE:  In addition to the entry fee, there is a required $5 per swimmer surcharge to cover the cost of USMS-mandated sanction insurance.   

PARKING:  Day parking costs $7 per car; please pay at park entrance.  Exact change is welcome. 

SOUVENIRS:  With their entry, swimmers may pre-order & purchase commemorative t-shirts for $18.  They will not be on sale at the event.  T-Shirt ordering cuts off 10 days in advance.  A few extra shirts will be sold on site.

MEALS AND HOT DRINKS:  Swimmers will receive a post-swim meal; order vegetarian or meat with your entry. Swimmers may pre-order specatator meals (vegetarian or meat) for $12 each, in advance with entry. We’ll have hot water for drinks to help keep you warm before & after swims.

CAMPING:  By special permission, camping at Lewis Creek Park is reserved on Friday night by registration with your entry.  Tents only—sorry, no RVs, tear-drops, or pop-up trailer tents. Camping fee is $17 per car, with Saturday parking included.  There is NO drop-in camping on site!  There are nearby public campgrounds run by Linn County.

OREGON OPEN WATER SERIES:  Both swims are featured swims, scored 22-18-16-14-12-10-8-6-4-2.  See for details of the Oregon Open Water Series.

CONSOLIDATED EVENT:  Each cable swim will be seeded as a single swim, without regard to swimmer gender, age, or swimwear category, in the order of submitted entry times.  Places, awards, and published results for these events shall be separate for each gender, age group, and swimwear category.

RULES:  Current USMS rules will govern this event.  Under penalty of disqualification, swimmers may not make deliberate contact with craft, craft operators, and/or any physical features on or near the course during a swim.

WARM-UP & WARM-DOWN:  There will be a practice cable set up in the enclosed swimming area and spotters provided there for supervised warm-up & warm-down.  Choosing to swim elsewhere in the lake is at the swimmer’s own risk.  Warm up before the pre-race meeting, as swimmers go directly from meeting to marshaling to racing!

STARTS:  In the 2-Mile, swimmers will start in seeded waves (8-12 swimmers each) starting 20 seconds apart. All Category 2 swimmers (wetsuits) will start in the final wave. In the 1-Mile swims, swimmers will start in seeded waves (8-12 swimmers each) starting 20 seconds apart.  The 2-Mile swim will be contested clockwise, and the 1-Mile swim will be contested counterclockwise (these directions are reversed annually).

RELAYS:  In the 2-Mile swim, cumulative relays will be accepted for National Championship places, All-American honors, and USMS records.  In the 1-Mile swim, cumulative relays will be accepted for records.  Enter relays & pay fees on race day only.  Bring club teammates for relays!

RESULTS: Results for each race will be posted as promptly as possible. They will also be posted on the following sites: COMA websiteOregon Masters website and the 2-mile will be posted on  Medals will be awarded to eight places in each age group in the USMS Two-Mile National Championships.  Championship patches to the USMS winners, who must be full USMS members. In the 1-Mile and 2-Mile Non-Championship swim, Custom Ribbons will be awarded to swimmers for the top three places in individual events in both the Category I and Category II suit divisions.  There will be no club scoring or awards.

SWIMWEAR: Current USMS rules apply. Category I suits are required for relays & records. Category II suits – including wetsuits- are welcomed in both swims but tabluated separately from Category I suits. Swimmers wearing Category II suits are not eligible for relays and records. See Master’s suit classification details.

So, What on Earth is a Cable Swim?

USMS rules tell us that cable swims are open water swims done on a specially designed one-quarter mile straightaway course defined by a cable including frequent buoys.  These courses are built to demanding specifications, with measurement tolerances within six inches only, and include an in-water start and finish. 

What are the benefits of cable swims?  They are a way to hold an open water swim in a well defined, relatively small area.  They are the easiest open water courses to patrol and maintain swimmer safety.  They are great venues for up-close, in-your-face competitive racing.  Records are kept.  And they provide a friendly transition from pool swims to open water swims, because cable swims share common elements with both kinds of swimming.

Pool swimmers will feel at home because cable swims include:

  • Heats and Waves:  Cable swims may have two heats.  Within each heat, there will be 8-12 waves of 8-12 swimmers each wave with staggered starts, much like heats at a pool meet.
  • Seeding:  Swimmers will be arranged at the starts by 1650-yard or 1500-meter seed times.
  • Steering:  There is a lane line (the cable) which makes swimming in a straight line pretty easy, even for those who are navigationally challenged.
  • Measured Course & Records:  Cable courses are the only open water courses to have measured distances certified to be accurate.  And because courses are accurate, records are kept.

Open water swimmers will feel at home because cable swims include:

  • Non-Rectangular Body of Water:  It is free form, shaped by erosion with some small help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Cooler Water:  No bathwater here!  We expect about 70 degree water on normal race days.
  • Variety:  There may always be hot or cold air temperatures, sunny or inclement weather, wind, and waves.
  • Crowds:  Like all open water swims, everyone will seem to want to share your lane.

Come join the fun at the Foster Lake Cable Swims, at the only permanently-anchored cable swim course in the western United States!


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