Swim Challenge Honors Olympic Gold Medalist, Benefits Clean Water

by SwimSwam 0

May 28th, 2022 News, Open Water

Courtesy: Wild Bill Swim

BROOKFIELD, MA – May 2022 — Fun, fitness and philanthropy are the three goals of the inaugural Wild Bill Swim Challenge being held at the Quacumquasit (South) Pond public beach on Sunday, August 7, 2022, according to Jennifer Yorzyk Triger, organizer of the event.

Yorzyk created the event in memory of her father, Dr. William (Bill) Yorzyk, who died in 2020. It ties together his passions of swimming, competition, and South Pond.

Swimming & Competition

Yorzyk won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 200-meter Butterfly event at the 1956 Summer Olympics, just seven years after learning to swim as a freshman at Springfield College. He was a five-time NCAA All American who set a total of 11 World Records. In the 1970s he used his swimming skills, diving experience, and knowledge of physiology gained through swimming and his medical training and experience, to assist in the development of diving tables still in use today. Yorzyk swam competitively into his 70s and passed on his love of the sport to his sons and daughter.

A Love of South Pond

Yorzyk and his wife Carrol moved to South Pond more than 30 years ago, drawn by the quiet wooded setting, fish and wildlife and the clear lake water perfect for swimming. When the purity of the lake water was threatened, Bill, Carrol and others founded the Quaboag Quacumquasit Lake Association (QQLA). QQLA is dedicated to preserving and protecting the quality of Quaboag (North Pond) and Quacumquasit (South Pond) lakes and the surrounding watershed through the promotion of responsible, effective environmental policies. Proceeds from the Wild Bill Swim & Paddle Challenge will help fund a matching grant to benefit the Quacumquasit Pond Phosphorus Inactivation Project that was recently approved and funded by the Federal Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant Program.

The Town of Sturbridge, which is managing the project, is working with QQLA, the ESS Environmental Group, and Solitude Lake Management to conduct an alum treatment targeting deep phosphorus-rich sediment in South Pond that could be completed as early as spring 2023.

The project is expected to increase water clarity, improve cold deep-water fish habitat for trout, reduce future risk due to algal blooms, and protect the lake from further water quality degradation. The project will also help reduce phosphorus in Quaboag Pond and the Chicopee River watershed.

“With the Wild Bill Swim & Paddle Challenge we’ve created an event where people will enjoy the beautiful water of South Pond while at the same time supporting its sustained cleanliness,” explains Jenn Yorzyk.

Events For All Ages & Abilities

The Wild Bill Swim & Paddle Challenge will hold four open water events for all ages and abilities.

  • A three-mile open water swim with an 8 a.m. start and a maximum swim time of two hours and 30 minutes.
  • A one-mile open water swim with an 8 a.m. start and a no maximum swim time .
  • A one-mile paddleboard/swim relay for two entrants with a 10:30 a.m. start.
  • A one-way 400-yard swim with an 11:30 a.m start.

There will also be entertainment, food and a Vintage Bathing Beauties & Blokes Pageant to commemorate Yorzyk’s 1956 Olympic Gold win. The event will conclude with a celebration of winners on the South Pond beach at 12:30 p.m.

“I have had the joy of taking to these open water swims with other South Pond residents and guests. They are challenging and exhilarating. Swimming in South Pond in the summer is like having your entire body caressed by velvet.” said Jenn Yorzyk. “I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with others through the Wild Bill Swim Challenge.”

Entrance fees will vary based on event, with a deadline for the 3 & 1 mile enrollment of July 25. Relay,  400 yard fun swim & Pageant participants can register on the day of.

Volunteers and sponsorships are also needed.

For more information email Jenn Yorzyk at [email protected] or watch for additional announcements in the Life on South Pond and Quaboag Pond Community pages on Facebook (Group: The Wild Bill Swim & Paddle Challenge), Instagram (@wildbilllswim) and the QQLA website at qqla.org.  The Wild Bill Swim & Paddle Challenge website will contain more information about registration and the day’s events has gone live! www.wildbillswim.org

Donations are also being received via www.gofundme.com/the-wild-bill-swim-and-paddle-challenge.

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