Swimmer goes the distanceUnlike most people, Sandra Bergquist seems to go faster the longer she swims. She put that talent on display for six hours Friday morning at Cloquet’s Herb Drew pool, swimming a total of 23,850 yards — just over 13.5 miles — from 6 a.m. to noon.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Unlike most people, Sandra Bergquist seems to go faster the longer she swims.
She put that talent on display for six hours Friday morning at Cloquet’s Herb Drew pool, swimming a total of 23,850 yards — just over 13.5 miles — from 6 a.m. to noon.
“It was unbelievable how fast she was swimming,” Cloquet Middle School physical education teacher Nancy McConachie said after Sandra finished her personal swim-marathon. “Her pace hardly fluctuated from beginning to end. She’s a fantastic swimmer.”
Bergquist had two reasons for holding her personal swim marathon: One, to raise money for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls swim team and two, to train for an extreme river swim she’s doing in July.
“It’s a good cause,” she said, noting that people sponsored her — mostly per mile or 1,000 yards — to the tune of about $500 via www.gofundme.com. “And it felt like a nice way to introduce myself to the community.”
The swim also helped Bergquist train for the END-WET (Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test) race, a 27-mile river swim in Grand Forks, N.D. This summer will be the second time she’s done the extreme race. Last year she completed the 27 miles in nine hours and 15 minutes, with her husband, David, at her side.
David explained that long-distance swimmers need a guide boat or someone paddling with them during the race for safety reasons as well as to provide drinks, food and moral support during the race. He added that — at $250 to enter — the North Dakota race is one of the cheapest marathon swims in the world.
At least there aren’t any alligators.
“No, but I did feel some catfish last year,” Sandra said. “You can’t see your hand in the water, it’s so murky.”
Bergquist (then Sandra Frimerman) swam competitively in high school at Eden Prairie. David also swam while he was at Cloquet High School (as did his father, Barry). She and David recently moved to Cloquet from the Twin Cities area so they could help with the family business, Bergquist Imports.
Sandra said she swam the longer races — the 500 and 100 butterfly — in high school but it wasn’t until after college that she tried a longer race.
“There’s a 5-mile race across Lake Minnetonka every year,” she said. “One year in college I decided to try it and I fell in love with distance swimming. Ever since then, there’s been nothing holding me back.”
In the winter, she swims between 30,000 and 40,000 yards in an average week. When it gets warm enough to swim outside, she swims even more.
“I probably do double that in the lake,” she said, explaining that it gets too hot when she’s training inside.
Speaking of lakes, Sandra is looking forward to training in the icy waters of Lake Superior, in the hopes that she will succeed in her next attempt to swim the English Channel. (She was unsuccessful in her first attempt in 2011, but did make it into French waters before stopping.)
First things first, though — Sandra said the money from last Friday’s swim is going directly to the CEC swim team, which she’d love to help coach come fall. She and David would also like to see the school start a boys swim team again.
She thinks the enthusiasm is there.
Although school wasn’t in session during Sandra’s swim session on Friday, teachers were there and many of them stopped by during her swim to show their support.
“It was really great how everyone came and supported the swim,” Sandra said, noting that many of the middle school staff came to the pool during their breaks. “I felt like I was part of the town.
“That’s really special,” she added.