By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Kathy Beirne, Shawn Delplain, Howie Ruddell and Todd Clayton arrived swimming side by side, and emerged from the water with smiles and to the cheers of about 20 family members and friends who gathered to see the arrival.
“It feels good. It was a good swim,” said Ruddell, the Port Angeles auto dealer who was the group’s designated spokesman.
Several children splashed through the shallows to provide the swimmers with a welcoming hug, unable to wait for the swimmers to find their legs and walk ashore.
The quartet plunged into lake from East Beach at 6:12 a.m., two minutes before sunrise.
Lake Crescent’s deep blue waters were 67 degrees near the surface, according to an Olympic National Park monitoring station.
The swimmers cut more than a half-hour off their estimated time for the swim, having planned a 6 a.m. departure and an arrival time of noon despite encountering wind, whitecaps and rain along the way.
“We had sun, rain, and wind,” Ruddell said.
“Most of the way the water was like a mirror; it was ideal conditions.
“It was only the last hour when the wind came up and it got choppy.”
The 8.9-mile swim was a fundraising activity for the Captain Joseph House Foundation, a nonprofit established by Betsy Reed Schultz of Port Angeles.
Schultz is converting her former bed-and-breakfast inn at 1108 S. Oak St. into a place of comfort and healing for families of service members who were killed in action.
The Captain Joseph House was named after Schultz’s son, Army Capt. Joseph Schultz, a U.S. Army Green Beret who was killed in Afghanistan on May 29, 2011.
The swimmers are accepting pledges of support for the Captain Joseph House Foundation.
Ruddell said on Sunday that he did not yet know how much money the swimmers had raised, but said there was a surprising amount of attention and donations coming from the Seattle area.
“I’m not sure how that happened,” Ruddell said, but said he was happy to see the Captain Joseph House get the unexpected money and exposure.
[A Peninsula Daily News report Friday on the intended swim was picked up by The Associated Press, of which the PDN is a member, and dispatched to news organizations throughout the Northwest.]
Beirne, 44, Delplain, 43, Ruddell, 41, and Clayton, 50, have swam more than 200 miles together, training six days a week since May.
The group consists of triathletes, marathon runners, cyclists and rowers of varying experience.
They alternated between open-water swims in Lake Crescent and Lake Sutherland, and pool swims at William Shore Memorial Pool in Port Angeles and the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center with swim clubs while training for the swim.
On Sunday, kayakers stayed close to the swimmers for safety and the provision of energy gels and fluids.
The swimmers selected a route along the south shore of the lake from East Beach to Sledgehammer Point, where they cut across the “crescent” and followed the north shore to Fairholme.
None of the swimmers said he or she was completely exhausted and probably could have continued for a longer distance.
But they ran out of lake, Ruddell said.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.