Some people like to refer to the 1,500 as swimming's marathon. For Melanie Price, that's just a warm up.
Price will spend Aug. 11-12 trying to swim across Lake Ontario, beginning at Port Dalhouse and, if everything goes according to plan, finishing in Oakville. At the end of what she expects to be a 15-21-hour swim, Price will have covered 42.2 km.
For Price, who has completed several Ironmans, the swim is about two things: First, she enjoys pushing herself; more importantly, however, she's raising money and awareness for Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, a charity decided to preserving water quality in Lake Ontario for swimming, drinking, and fishing.
"Swimming in general has brought a lot of my life," she said in a recent phone interview.
"I wanted to bring more awareness to [swimming in the lake] and then I think the more people that experience it, whether they're swimming in it or just walking along the shore, if they're interested in it then they'll be more interested in caring for it."
After a layoff from her competitive age group days, Price got back in the pool about four years ago after the birth of her first daughter. It was a way to do something for herself as well as get active.
After a year of training with the Burlington Masters Swim Club she got back into racing. As the competitive fires started to burn again Price started looking for new challenges. Like a lot of people, she came to open water swimming through triathlons.
Her enjoyment for swimming in the lake increased the more she did it and, eventually she figured if she liked swimming in the lake she might as well try to swim across it.
Price has spent the past year building her meters in the pool, putting in six sessions a week usually with a couple of 10km swims. This way she enters the open water season with a strong base. As soon as it's warm enough, she moves all of her training to the lake.
Although she puts in some training time with the Lake Ontario Swim Team, Price said she doesn't mind training on her own.
On particularly long swims or on days when there's a lot of traffic on the lake her husband will pace her in a kayak, but it's mostly a solitary event where Price is able to leave her cares and worries on the shore for as she racks up the meters.
"I'm a pretty busy person so I actually kind of enjoy that time to myself."
The effort in August is a big one, even beyond the actual physical act of swimming across the lake.
A lot of organization goes into a swim like this and, as the swimmer, Price is responsible for making sure it all comes together. Long-distance open water regulations call for two 30-foot boats, two inflatable boats, lifeguards, a variety of safety equipment, food for all the crew, and (if Price wants them) pace swimmers for during daylight hours.
Price was able to see first hand how such an operation works when she was pace swimmer last summer for Miguel Vadillo when he crossed Lake Ontario. It was a valuable and inspirational experience, said Price.
"It probably helped that he did complete it," she said with a laugh. "He had a rather nice day and I hope for as good conditions."
Conditions will be an important factor on the day of her swim because Price won't have a wetsuit.
She'll hope for favourable weather, use Vasoline, and have warm fluids at her disposal.
Learning how to take in warm fluids while swimming (or any fluids and nutrition, for that matter) has all been part of the training process. Price isn't allowed to touch any of the boats during the lake crossing so water bottles will be thrown to her on a string, she'll take what she needs, and then keep swimming. Nutrition will come in the form of carbo powder added to water and possibly some fruit or other extras.
At a recent long-distance swim in Indiana Price was able to put some of these practices to the test over 20 km. The fact that it went well - she was able roll onto her back while eating a banana - helped boost her confidence heading into the main event next month.
"I had no nutritional problems so I was quite happy," she said. "I had some gels and a little bit of sweet."
For more information on Price's swim you can visit her personal website at www.melaniepriceadventures.blogspot.com or to contribute to her fundraising effort visit www.canadahelps.org/gp/11261.