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by Kylie Magar

July 25, 2018

The Pacific Northwest hosted three U.S. Masters Swimming open water national championships in one week

Stephanie Lemmons and Megan Tosh’s summer vacation plans were easy.

The two swam together on Georgia Masters before Tosh relocated to Portland, Ore., last year. A few months later, Lemmons visited Tosh, learned that the region would host three open water national championships in July 2018, and began planning another trip.

“We made it our swim vacation for the summer,” says Lemmons, who, along with Tosh, was among the 15 or so swimmers to compete all three national championships, races that totaled nearly 20 miles over seven days. “We clearly had a super-relaxing vacation.”

Their swimming vacation started July 8 with the 11-mile USMS Ultramarathon-Distance Open Water Championship. The race drew around 100 swimmers and had a course that passed under 12 bridges that spanned the Willamette River in Portland.

“For the first time swimming an open water race, I really didn’t care about the race part,” says Tosh, 33, a member of Oregon Masters. “I just was having a blast swimming through downtown looking at all of the bridges.”

Lemmons, who is new to open water swimming, didn’t fully trust her abilities to swim all 11 miles, so she did the relay with two people she didn’t know.

“I had a blast,” says Lemmons, 26. “I totally recommend the relay for someone who might be intimidated from doing such an ultramarathon distance of swimming because it was so much fun to swim with my two other relay teammates.”

Lemmons and Tosh then competed in the USMS 2-Mile Cable Open Water Championship in Foster Lake on July 12 before completing the USMS Marathon-Distance Open Water Championship, a 10K, on July 14 in Applegate Lake. Both races were in Oregon and within 300 miles of Portland.

Tosh won national championships in all three races, something she thought she had a chance of achieving and put pressure on herself to do after her performance in Portland.

After she crossed the finish line in the Ultramarathon OW Nationals, “I started getting excited that maybe I won my age group,” Tosh says. “Once I did, the pressure was really on to win the other two.”

Lemmons ended her week with the longest swim she’s ever done.

“There was a part of me, after I swam and was eating a lot, I almost cried,” she says. “I can’t believe I did it. It took me 3 hours and 11 minutes, but I did it.”

She’s happy to have done all three races.

“I got to see gorgeous parts of Oregon and Pacific Northwest,” Lemmons says. “You can’t beat freshwater and open water swimming.”

USMS National Championships Quite the Trip

Bill Ireland’s vacations revolve around something dear to him.

“I arrange my trips around swimming as much as possible,” says Ireland, a native of Venice, Calif., and a member of Southern California Aquatic Masters.

Ireland, who has been swimming for nearly 50 years, enjoys swimming in the open water, especially in Oregon. For nearly the past 16 years, Ireland has traveled north for several open water races and to reunite with friends and acquaintances he met at prior swims.

As one of about 15 participants in all three open water national championships in Oregon in July, Ireland enjoyed each swim in its own unique way. In between each of the races throughout the week, he and his wife were catching up with family and friends, enjoying local wines, and watching live local theater.

“I like open water swimming,” says Ireland, 59. “I like swimming in lakes, rivers, and oceans, and enjoy the unpredictability of the experience.”

Results for the USMS Ultramarathon-Distance Open Water Championship, USMS 2-Mile Cable Open Water Championship, and USMS Marathon-Distance Open Water Championship are available.


  • Open Water


  • Competition
  • National Championships
  • Open Water
  • Races
  • Racing
  • USMS Nationals