Melissa Kegler describes the group. “We meet at the Alki Bathhouse which is right on the beach across from our favorite post-swim warm-up place, Tully’s Coffee. The Saturday group is larger, anywhere from 10-30 people depending on the time of year; the Sunday group is smaller between 2-8 people and doesn’t always start on time.
We’ve dubbed in Laid Back Sundays.
We swim year-round, rain, shine, snow or storm and will always be there Saturdays – and Sundays depending on what time the alarm clock goes off.”
The name of the Notorious Alki Swimmers originated three years ago, but they have always been a subgroup of the Western Washington Open Water Swimmers, a Facebook group that began seven years ago for people in the Seattle to connect and find swim buddies.
“The group wasn’t founded by anyone. We are not a membership group; we are just a group of people who like to swim and experience the ocean together. There’s a core group of people, but we want it to stay open and free to anyone who wants to experience Puget Sound and Alki Beach with us.”
The regulars include Kegler, Andrew Malinak, Erika Norris, Randy Perkins, Scott Lautman, Dan Robinson, Jerome Leslie, Lauren Bolini, Sam Day, Becky Smith, Rebecca Cory, Christina Crombie, Jeff Crombie, Waymon Wilkerson, Guila Muir, Denise Kester, Steve Roberts, Patrick Baker, Alison Peterson, Heidi Skrzypek, Lori Graham, Susan Curran, Eric Weeks, and Stuart Johnston. “The list goes on. Some are very experienced in marathon swimming and others come to float in the water and have to plans to swim any type of event.
What I love about the group is it’s not a team, you don’t have to pay a membership, we don’t have web page, it’s not formalized in any way, and we aren’t your typical swimmer group. We are a bunch of unique and diverse people who share a connection through the water.
We have people of all different professions, swim backgrounds, ages, abilities and goals. We have wetsuit swimmers, skin swimmers, marathon swimmers, triathletes, swimmers who get in for five minutes, others who stay in for 4 hours. We have swimmers that are training for big swims and others who just want to get in and take pictures. We’re a social group that welcomes everyone, do not care about your experience or speed, we look after each other, educate each other, swim with each other, play in the sand with each other’s families. You can do whatever you want in the water and at the beach with us.
I get the chance to swim and learn from people with all sorts of experiences, backgrounds, abilities and viewpoints. We help each other in our goals, whether it is swimming related or not. It’s a group where I feel free to be myself and swim without judgement.”
She recalls her first open water swim. “It was a half-mile swim in Florida as a part of the swim leg of a triathlon 4 or 5 years ago. I didn’t know if I was going to make it, that I wouldn’t be able to finish. What I learned was that time was irrelevant in the end because I found a lifelong passion that day and I did finish.
I make sure to congratulate everyone on any distance and any time they swim it in because I know and remember what it feels like to do that first swim. These people have my back and I’ll always have theirs.
Just because they aren’t doing marathon distances doesn’t mean their swims are any less important or less meaningful to them and to our group. Everyone starts somewhere and this group, un-formalized swimming in all its glory, is the platform and the vehicle to help people learn and make that first step if they want to.
This group of crazy, wonderful, intelligent, supportive and amazing people who choose to swim because they want to – that is why I swim with this group. We’re friends and we have lot of love for everyone.”
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