Getting over the cold of Keystone Pond |

Getting over the cold of Keystone Pond

Jason Starr

KEYSTONE – For almost all terra competitors, swimming is the black sheep of the three triathlon sports. They come from mountain biking and running backgrounds and just hope to survive the swim without damaging their bodies or their chances at a good overall finish.

So it was little surprise Saturday when a large group of competitors dove at the chance to test the waters of Keystone Pond, where they will swim one kilometer as part of today’s terra Central Championship.

The swim clinic was the most popular of a day of clinics hosted by professional triathletes Saturday. It was the only chance competitors had to swim in the pond before today’s race. The water is usually closed to swimmers.

“Very few come in with a swimming background,” said terra pro and clinic instructor Neal Henderson. “That’s why this clinic helps people. A lot of people have some apprehension with getting out in open water. We’re just trying to get them a taste of it before the race.”

Other terra swimming venues include the Pacific Ocean, the James River in Virginia and Lake Tahoe. In some ways Keystone Pond, known for its leisurely paddleboat rides, is the least intimidating of all the terra swims (in the two-lap race, swimmers are never more than 30 feet from the pond’s edge). But when the altitude and crisp temperatures are factored in, it becomes a more forboding body of water.

“Swimming in cold water at altitude is different than jumping in your backyard pool.” Anderson said. “Cold water constricts you and really amplifies the (altitude) problem.”

Frisco’s Mark Thomson was getting in all the practice he could Saturday afternoon. Today will be his first terra triathlon. The clinic taught him to use a slow, steady pace in the water.

“I’m a little nervous, and this helped a ton,” he said. “It was tough to breath when I first got in. It took it out of me real fast.”

The water temperature was listed at 64 degrees Saturday afternoon. Because of the warm summer, the water is warmer than it’s been in the past. Veteran competitors noticed the difference.

“It’s a refreshing temperature for a race,” said Melissa Neal of Boulder, a veteran of the Keystone Pond 1K. “I don’t think it’s nearly as cold as people expect.”

Still, competitors should prepare for a jolt when they first jump in. Those who participated in Saturday’s swim clinic already know what it feels like.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at

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