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The summer of 2020 will be remembered by a generation for all the wrong reasons, however amidst the unprecedented restrictions there was a small sense of normality for one group of Cumbrian Club swimmers through their participation in the Cumbria Open Water League.
In 2019, Mark Newby (Workington ASC) took on the role of Open Water Secretary for the County, with the aim of promoting Open Water Swimming. Through the generous willingness of Epic Events the Cumbria Open Water League (COWL) was introduced to the competition calendar.
The league is a simple format with swimmers competing in at least two of the Epic Swim Series held in the heart of the English Lake District. Points are awarded to each swimmer based on their swim time compared to the swim time of the first COWL swimmer to cross the line in their respective age and gender category. The points of a swimmer’s best two scoring events are added together to give an overall league position.
Following the success of the 2019 season, the 2020 season was set to be launched for its second year when the pandemic hit. As with all swimming events organised by Swim England, it was looking almost certain that the COWL would not go ahead. On 26th July 2020, when restrictions started to ease, Epic Events announced their Epic Coniston Swim would go ahead on 16th August.
The 2020 COWL saw 31 swimmers (an increase on the 23 from the previous year) undertake the events in Coniston, Ullswater and Windermere through August and September. Cumbria ASA agreed to the 2020 season being held as a County Championship event and medals were awarded to the top three boys and girls in each age group.
Jo McWilliams, from Epic Events said:
“We love that it is helping generate more awareness of the joys of open water and we are now seeing some fantastic competitive swimming too. The youngsters coming through are something else”.
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