Lake Waccamaw, NC – The challenge of swimming across Lake Waccamaw is something that served as a rite of passage for generations. It was in the 1940s that Lee J. Greer formalized the process, encouraging hundreds of youth and adults to take on the challenge every Labor Day.
“I’m much more of a walker,” said Grant Egley, who in 2000 started holding annual walks around the lake that same weekend. “I wanted to help encourage more activity around the Lake.”
In 2008, in part to address the low health rating of the county, a pilot event was organized with paddling and cycling added to the events.
“We knew we had a beautiful setting and a natural course that would take advantage of that setting,” said Julie Stocks, chair of the Take the Lake steering committee. “We wanted to provide a personal endurance challenge that would allow anyone who was interested to ‘take the lake.’”
The distances vary for each of the events. Both the walk/run and the bike and hike are 16 miles. The paddle event is 14 miles and the swim is 4 miles.
For the already fit members of the community, the challenge of the weekend’s events was a significant challenge.
“The thing was, we wanted to continue to expand the reach to those who might not be as far along on their personal fitness journey,” said Stocks.
Over the past three years, a shorter walk and bike ride have been added to the event options. Each of these events are 6.2 miles.
“These family events are used to encourage those who might not be ready for a 16 mile challenge to take those first steps,” said Stocks. “We have seen an increase in the number of children taking part and bringing their parents along for the ride.”
The event, now in its eighth year, is still free for participants, although T-shirts and water bottles are available for purchase.
“We don’t want to prevent anyone from participating,” said Stocks. “We don’t need any additional barriers for people’s health. That is why there is no entry fee for the individual events on Labor Day Weekend.”
Those who truly want to challenge themselves do have the opportunity on Labor Day to participate in the X-Treme, where they participate in the swim, bike and hike, paddle and run/walk in a single day.
“The money we charge for the X-Treme, and the money from sales of the T-shirts and water bottles and any sponsorships, all go into putting on the event,” said Stocks. “We’re not a fundraiser. We’re not a race. We are a challenge. We simply place a goal in front of ordinary people to motivate them to do something extraordinary.”
While the official Take the Lake events are Labor Day Weekend, it isn’t a one weekend event. To truly enjoy participating, training must take place throughout the summer.
“Training, especially in a group of family or friends, provides an opportunity for bonding and engagement not easily achieved in today’s high speed, technology driven world,” Stocks said. “That said, technology is often used to track the progress of the training in a way that makes it fun for the participants.”
For those already fit members of the community, Take the Lake may not seem like an activity that makes sense for them to participate in.
“Like Lee Greer, we believe that inspired people do inspiring things,” Stocks said. “We see one person participate in Take the Lake and the next year they bring their friends, family and even coworkers. We would love to see some of our fittest members of the community pairing with a friend or family member who isn’t as fit. There is something energizing about sharing in physical activity with others.”
For more information about the 2017 Take the Lake, visit www.takethelake.org or call 910-641-1071.
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Take the Lake would not be possible without our generous sponsors. Thank you for supporting fitness and good health in our community!
Thank you to our sponsors!
Columbus Regional Healthcare System
The John A. McNeill Family
Carolina Sports Medicine
Council Tool Company
Friends of Rube McCrae Memorial Library
Hill's Food Stores
Southeastern Community College
Baldwin Woods Pharmacy
Dale's Seafood Restaurant
Powell and Powell Law
Sam’s Pit Stop
Special Service Sponsors
Body Shapers Fitness Center
Lake Time Vintiques
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Take a few minutes and reel through the years of Take the Lake, as we review the many themes and posters that have helped make fitness more fun in Columbus County! Click here
After spending several years at the very bottom of the County Health Ranking -- as the least healthy county in all of North Carolina -- we have improved our lifestyles enough to move up to 96, and we are proud to be so healthy!
DID YOU KNOW...
that the second-most-popular Boy Scout merit badge in the U.S. is for Swimming? And the ninth-most-popular is Personal Fitness? Yes!
Six girls complete
all four PECs.
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