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After several years in Ohio, Kentucky Swimming plans to move the Kentucky LSC Open Water Swim Championship to Elizabethtown this summer.
The Elizabethtown Dolphin Swim Club approached Elizabethtown City Council Monday seeking authorization to host the championships at Freeman Lake on June 16.
The 500-meter, straight-line course is broken up into age groups from 10 and under up to 15 and over, according to the Kentucky LSC Open Water Championship website. There are both individual and relay events.
Jim Bellware, a representative for the Elizabethtown Dolphin Swim Club and a KYLSC board member, said open water swimming is gaining popularity and the organization desired to relocate to Kentucky this year with a low participation from registered swimmers in the state. Roughly 132 swimmers represented Kentucky in last year’s championship, according to Bellware’s presentation.
Elizabethtown is attractive, he said, because of its centralized location.
Bellware said other clubs in Kentucky have shown interest in hosting the event, a swim competition that could bolster positive economic impact in the city. He estimated more than 500 swimmers and their families could converge on the park to participate in the event, many of which would spend money in the city on lodging and food.
Bellware said the event must be sanctioned by USA Swimming, which issues rules and regulations the event would have to comply with.
Medical professionals and an ambulance would be on-site in case of emergency and positive control procedures to ensure the event does not become unruly would be enforced, Bellware said. Furthermore, a severe weather plan would be enacted, he said.
Recreation officials said there are no current reservations at the park June 16 so it would not interfere with other commitments. Mayor Tim Walker said the city’s new tennis complex at the park would be open so the city would have to manage any conflicts there.
As part of its safety measures, Bellware said the competition would feature “safety” boats with lifeguards strategically placed in the water, including one high-speed, motorized boat with the ability to reach a struggling swimmer in seconds.
The city heavily regulates open motors at Freeman Lake but the city said it would work with the club to meet the necessary requirement.
Bellware said the championship is flexible and has capacity to combine with other events, such as a chili cook-off. Councilman Bill Bennett encouraged Bellware to look into incorporating an Iron Man competition with the championship to attract runners and cyclists.
Food vendors will be accessible at the park during the championship and Kentucky Swimming will carry insurance and liability coverage.
Finance Director Steve Park said the city will need to be listed as an additional insured party because it is not hosting the event.
“We’ll need to have some kind of protection,” Park said.
City Attorney D. Dee Shaw said she had no qualms with the city approving the event if the proper insurance liability coverage and waivers are in place.
Executive Assistant Charlie Bryant asked if the event will charge spectators. Bellware said an admission fee is a possibility but open areas will be hard to manage. Swimmers are charged entry fees to participate.
Three council members — Ron Thomas, Marty Fulkerson and Kenny Lewis — were absent from the work session because of illness, but those in attendance supported its approval. Walker said he had assurances from two absent members and told Bellware the city would work with the club on the details.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.
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