Swimmer Spotlight

Whenever you do an open water event, you take for granted that the course is set properly at the distance it’s purported to be. When you do a one mile event, you assume that, if you swim in a straight line between buoys (a generous assumption for many of us!), you will swim one mile.  In this installment of Swimmer Spotlight, we focus on the person who’s been doing just that for the Lake Berryessa Swim for the past 15 years: Pat Long.  

Every year, one or two days before the event, Pat brings his boat from its normal dock in Bodega Bay to Lake Berryessa to get started on setting the course. With a GPS device, he measures distances and sets up the course buoys at precise locations.  To do this he must inflate them, tie them to concrete block anchors, then drop them into the lake.  Many times, depending on weather and currents, these buoys can drift, resulting in a course distance other than what it’s supposed to be. Over the years Pat has learned how the buoys respond to different conditions and makes the appropriate adjustments to ensure course integrity.

On the morning of the race, he again goes to each buoy and checks its position.  If it has in fact deviated, he corrects it.  This attention to detail is one of the reasons that the DAM Berryessa Open Water Swim has been such a success over the years, and Pat Long is a major contributor to that success. Coach Stu describes Pat as the “set-up master and unsung hero” of Berryessa. Thank you, Pat, for all of your efforts!

But Pat Long is so much more than the Berryessa Set-up Master.  After college and a brief stint at farming (potatoes and alfalfa in Oregon), he joined the US Air Force and learned to fly.  He is in the final years of a career as a commercial airline pilot for Southwest Airlines.  He also does commercial salmon fishing. That’s the real reason he has that boat he uses at Berryessa!  In fact, in the past, he’s made his fresh-caught salmon available to DAM swimmers.  He plans to resume this when he retires in a few years.  

Pat lives in Davis with his wife, Laura (once a DAM swimmer as well), and youngest son Griffin (DHS golf standout).  His two older sons are pursuing careers in the US Navy; one on active duty in Spain and the other at the Naval Academy at Annapolis.

Friday eve before swim!  As you can see lots of dammers pitch in!