PACTOLA RESERVOIR, S.D. — It was a beautiful morning to be out in the Black Hills, and for some enthusiasts, that meant a morning swim at Pactola Lake.
It’s the fifth annual Pure Pactola Race, a chance for swimmers from across the Black Hills to test their grit.
What started as 1.2- and 2.4-mile races has been expanded to include a half-mile and a 5K race for those looking for an even bigger challenge.
Like everything else, Pure Pactola wasn’t held last year, but it came back strong Sunday with nearly 90 swimmers participating.
To ensure the swimmers’ safety there were more than 50 volunteers on kayaks and boats and members of the Johnson Siding Fire Department keeping a watchful eye on the competitors
“We’ve put this event on just so that people can come out and swim, enjoy the hills. It is the only open water swimming race in the Black Hills,” said co-Director Stacey Nelson.
“I just love the water. I have been a competitive swimmer on and off since age 13, and it was just too beautiful of a place and a day to stay at home,” said Mandi Meredith-Dunlop, race participant.
Lakes are not the first thing people think of when coming to the Black Hills, but they are popular and draw a lot of people to the region.
“We have masters groups that came up from Denver area to compete with each other and with South Dakota swimmers. And have to say, our South Dakota swimmers are representing really really well, so we need more next year,” Hughes said.
“I love Pactola; I’m from Pierre and the water is amazing here. It’s clear, it’s flat, it’s not windy today, and I love open water swimming. This is my fourth time at Pactola. Event is well prepared, well run, that’s why I always come back,” said Betty Hanson, race participant.
Following the races there was a picnic and awards ceremony.
Proceeds from the race go to support the Johnson Siding Fire Department and the upkeep of buoys for the race.