Swim Report – Bayfield, WI Point to LaPointe 2-Miler – August 9, 2008

The Point to LaPointe swim started out two years ago as a local fund raising event for the Bayfield Area Recreation Center. However, judging by the strong interest and attendance this year, I predict that this event will become one of the preeminent open water swim events in the Midwest – if not nationwide.

The swim course itself is spectacular. It’s a point to point 2.07 mile jaunt in Lake Superior from the Bayfield mainland to Madeline Island, the largest of the world famous Apostle Islands. The water is stunningly clear – the most pristine lake water I have ever encountered. And the mighty Lake Superior lives up to its name by providing swimmers with ample challenges in the form of bracing water temperatures and strong currents.

However, it’s the surrounding area of Bayfield and the Apostle Islands that makes this an absolutely magical event. The Point to LaPointe swim takes place in early August when the brief but glorious Lake Superior summer season is in full bloom. And nowhere do people cherish their summer months more heartily than in the far north shores of Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is a land rich in culture and tradition that’s steeped in the ancient history of the Ojibwa migration and has its “contemporary” roots in the fur trade of the 1500’s and in the timber, iron ore, and fishing industries that provided the foundation upon which America was built throughout the 1700’s and 1800’s.

Go there for the swim, and stay there for the true experience of summer at its finest…

There were 120 swimmers this year – a huge jump from last year’s count of 57. Swimmers came from as far away as Long Beach, CA to brave the channel crossing, and they got to experience all facets of Lake Superior’s mercurial personality.

The first wave of competitive swimmers took off at 7:20am under near perfect conditions. With sunny skies and water temperatures hovering around 66F, the first mile was about as ideal as it could get. Halfway through the race, though, a northeast wind arrived and whipped up the waves so much that most of the swimmers had to fight a strong sideways current that literally came out of nowhere. I myself went home with several souvenir mouth/lungfuls of Lake Superior water, but I managed to make it to the swim finish in 1 hour 15 minutes without overshooting the target.

Others, though, had a bit more of a workout…

The community swimmers took off at 7:40am and experienced the brunt of the current for most of the swim. Many found themselves drifting southwest of the finish area only to have to backtrack along the coast with the guidance of a kayaker. Still, they all gutted it out, and the last swimmer exited the water at just over 3 hours – which makes me exhausted just thinking about it! Here are the shots:

Bayfield sunrise

Swim start beach (Madeline Island in the background)

Swim finish on Madeline Island

Panoramic video of the course from the finish area


  1. Karen Reeder
    May 8, 2009

    srhernan, Nice description. I would like to post it on our blog connected with the website and calendar of events. Basically we have a list of swims and are trying to add swimmer descriptions so athletes can find out more information. If I can take your description, I would also like your full name to give you credit on the blog. Please let me know if that is OK.

    • srhernan
      May 9, 2009

      Hi Karen! That would be fine. I got your other e-mail as well, and I’ll send you another separate response.

  2. Dave Doering
    December 21, 2008

    srhernan, nice description. I’m putting together a non-profit video of the event, which will be used to promote the swim and the rec center. Would it be OK if I used some of the text from your description above. I’d really appreciate it.

  3. erich Grutzner
    August 31, 2008

    What a fantastic event great planning and fun for the entire family. The kayak escorts had as much fun as the swimmers. A beautiful sun rise and swim before most people even woke up. A really tough swim but well worth it.

  4. francisco ochoa and famili
    August 17, 2008

    hey steve thanks for the huge picturs

  5. Margie
    August 16, 2008

    My daughter, Michelle, (who lives in Bayfield and LOVES IT!) has participated the past two years. I’m so proud of her that she has finished both times and last year was the biggest fund raiser. I’m very pleased to contribute to this wonderful Rec Center in Bayfield. What a beautiful little city!

  6. Gennifer Reed
    August 13, 2008

    Congratulations to all who swam, you were a magnificent site (and sound)! It was a bit like a waterfall with all of the swimmers hitting the water. Congratulations to Dwayne who swam as a community swimmer and received the spirit award for his “float”. We love our town and welcome all to come visit or swim the “Big Lake”!

  7. Hannah
    August 12, 2008

    Thank you for supporting our community – we love the Rec Center and it is very important to Bayfield! The Swim is a very cool event, and I hope you attend next year!

    Hannah Hudson

  8. Howard Goldman
    August 12, 2008

    Kudos all the way around for this event.
    When the northeast wind blew in, I learned a swim lesson the hard way. In a cross wind, to maintain a straight line to the target, the swimmer must make a heading up wind of the target. I made the mistake of keeping my eyes and nose locked on the landing. With the wind pushing me sideways my track to the finish followed an ever increasing curve toward the eye of the wind. I plan to come back next year to apply this lesson.

  9. Michelle
    August 12, 2008

    Thank you for the awesome post! I live in Bayfield and am a HUGE Rec Center supporter and swam the Pt to LaPt this year and last. As we see the event grow, input from people like you and the group of swimmers that participated in it would be most valuable. As a fund raiser we want to maximize income, as an event we want to make sure it is done well. Glad you enjoyed it!

  10. srhernan
    August 11, 2008

    Hey Steve! Thanks for the great comment! One other thing I forgot to mention in the post, a big hats off goes out to Scott Armstrong for putting this event together. It was a real blast! Also, since you’re local, come on out for one of our awesome Sunday swims!

  11. Steve
    August 11, 2008

    Great post. Thanks! I swam the event and I am one of the vounteer organizers of the race. Your description of th race, conditions, and Bayfield area are all right on target. Many people told me after the race that it could easily step up to be on of the nationally elite open water races.

    I made it in 1 hour 33 minutes. My first ever open water swim besides a few shorter practice swims in the last month. I trained hard since February with teh Evanston, IL Masters Swim Team. Huge help and thanks to all the support from coaches and teammates.

    I’d also like to brag that this is charity event for a great cause — the Bayfield Rec Center. For you swimmers it has a very nice 25 meter pool. I was the #1 money raiser this year for this great cause!

    Thanks for writing us up. Hopefully it will lead more folks to learn about our great race, the Rec Center, and the beautiful Bayfield area.


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  1. […] Two years ago, I predicted that the Point to LaPointe 2-Mile swim would become “one of the preeminent open water swim events in the Midwest – if not nationwide.” […]

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