Water warriors: Love, Smith swim 27 miles in Red RiverBen Smith and Braydon Love got an up close view of the Red River on Saturday. So close, in fact, they were in it. Smith, Jamestown High School’s swimming coach, and Love, one of his main performers, swam in the 27-mile Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test, or END-WET. The first-of-its-kind event in the state began in East Grand Forks and ended in Oslo, Minn.
By: By Dave Selvig, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Ben Smith and Braydon Love got an up close view of the Red River on Saturday.
So close, in fact, they were in it.
Smith, Jamestown High School’s swimming coach, and Love, one of his main performers, swam in the 27-mile Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test, or END-WET. The first-of-its-kind event in the state began in East Grand Forks and ended in Oslo, Minn.
A group of 12 solo swimmers, three relay teams and about 20 paddleboard and kayakers competed in the event. The winning relay team consisted of five different swimmers. Smith and Love teamed to tackle the 27 miles all by themselves. They placed second in eight hours and 34 seconds, just five seconds behind the winning team, and by the end were understandably pooped.
“I wasn’t as tired as thought I was going to be, but my shoulders were shot,” said the 16-year-old Love. “We’ve been training pretty much every morning the whole summer, so we’re in pretty good shape. It was fun, but it was tiring.”
Their routine in the water would go as follows: Smith swam the first three miles; Love took the next three; each then swam two miles before they rotated one-mile shifts for the final 11 miles.
Each team had a lifeboat they were able to rest in while not swimming. Love’s dad and grandpa rode shotgun in the boat, while Smith and Braydon Love swam away.
“It was a great experience, very unique,” Smith said. “We definitely plan on doing it again.”
The murkiness of the Red River was another challenge, although both said it wasn’t as dirty as it appears.
“It’s not clear, that’s for sure, but it’s not dirty at the same time. There’s a lot of sediment from the mud and dirt. That’s why it’s so hard to see,” Smith said.
“Visibility was like two inches,” Love added. “The thing that was different was that you had to be looking up to breath. Normally you breathe through the side.”
Smith and Love have competed in the annual XTERRA events in Jamestown, so they were familiar with the set up. However, the race in Grand Forks is one of just three in the country. The others are in Tampa Bay, Fla., and Manhattan, N.Y. Saturday’s race, which was held in conjunction with “Oslo Days,” featured swimmers from Grand Forks to Phoenix and Pennsylvania to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Both enthusiastically said they’ll compete in the race again, but with a little twist.
“Next year I’m doing it again,” Love said. “But I’m going solo.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org