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Open-water swimming in Grand Traverse Bay: A meditative escape from our busy world - Energy And Water Development Corp

Open-water swimming in Grand Traverse Bay: A meditative escape from our busy world

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Well before the daily throng of tourists hit the beaches, local open-water swimmers hit the water at sunrise to soak up the beauty of Grand Traverse Bay.

For Ashlea Walter, open-water swimming in Traverse City is a way to connect with nature and her friends. They often swim from East Bay Park, and they catch up as they put on their wetsuits and swim buoys and wade into the lake.

Walter discovered her love for open-water swimming when some friends invited her to train for a 2-mile fundraiser swim in the bay. She thought she knew her passions and was surprised at how much she loved being out in the lake. Growing up, she always loved the water and was swim teams. Racing was her thing. But now it’s open-water swimming that brings her pure joy.

“It’s meditative once you get going,” she said. “It’s also a nice escape from the busy world. Once you’re out there, you leave everything behind.”

Swimming in Lake Michigan can be a thrill. But even in a protected bay, things can get dicey. Sometimes the waves kick up and provide a challenge. Safety is top of mind for the group.

“We never really swim alone. We try to stay safe and swim together, at least with another person,” Walter said.

They also use swim buoys to help them stay visible to watercraft. Wetsuits help with warmth as well as floatation.

Despite the joy, Walter doesn’t swim in Lake Michigan year-round. Of course, there are some that do.

In the early spring, she’ll swim the interior lakes around Traverse City and uses a lap pool through the winter.

But there’s always something special about the big lake.

“It’s just an amazing way to be out in the water,” she said. “And it it always inspires me to to work harder to protect it as well.”

Tap on this link to watch Walter and her friends swim in the lake and hear her in her own words describe the beauty and wonder of the lake.

To read Walter’s essay on open water swimming, click here.


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