Choppy conditions and strong currents at Edgewater Beach are causing some concerns for athletes competing in the USA Triathlon this weekend.
Competitors, who plan to swim in Sunday’s sprint race competition, swam in the water today preparing for the upcoming competition.
"It was very choppy," Samantha Damstetter said, adding there are still high waves and strong currents.
"Normally, what happens is if you get passed what they call the breakers, which is about 100 yards from shore, the waves would kind of subside," she said. "But these waves were still very up and down, and it tires you out swimming in so hard into those early waves."
Jim Nack practiced in the water and will also compete tomorrow. He described the conditions as somewhat scary.
"I’m used to calm water and the waves are up and down pretty good," he said. "You need to get used to that kind of atmosphere."
A spokesperson for the organization says the Olympic race was shortened today as a precaution because of unfavorable swimming conditions. Yesterday, the USA Triathlon’s open water swim and practice were cancelled due to strong winds, waves and current conditions.
Today, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District upgraded the water quality to "good," a day after it said it was "poor."
Earlier this week, the beach was closed because of the aforementioned conditions as well as an overflow of raw sewage. Damstetter said the conditions tomorrow should be much better and had no concern about her safety. She said the USA triathlon does a great job of protecting them too.
"Tomorrow morning, [the wind] is supposed to be coming from the south, which will smooth the lake out and make it much easier to swim in," she said.
Last year, a 75 year-old triathlete champion named Jim Hix died while swimming in an event. It was a shock to many of the athletes given his experience.
Competitors say it is something they think about, but aren’t too concerned. Damstetter competed last year and says Hix death was heartbreaking, but she adds it’s also a reminder to not underestimate the conditions of a large body of water like a lake.
"The problem is a lot of these athletes don’t swim in this type of water," she said. "They either swim in man-made lakes or pools because they can’t get to open water, And I think they just underestimated their abilities in these conditions."
Nack say it’s important to rely on your training and listen to your body.
"Go slow to start, get your rhythm and get your confidence," he said.
A spokesperson with the USA Triathlon sent us this statement addressing the water quality at Edgewater Beach:
"USA Triathlon is aware of the recent rainfall in Cleveland that caused swimming restrictions at Edgewater Beach due to heightened bacteria levels earlier in event week. Test results Thursday and Friday showed levels within the normal range and the Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships taking place Saturday-Sunday will continue as planned. We are working closely with Cleveland Metroparks and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to monitor and test the water quality in Lake Erie on a continuous basis."