highland lakes challenge
The World’s FIRST open water swimming stage race!
ENJOY THE CHALLENGE . . .
3 lakes in 3 days this year!
the WHO•WHAT•WHEN•WHERE•WHY OF it all
WHO: Adults, 18 & older. Youth, 14-17, with Race Director Entry Approval.
WHAT: The World’s First open water swimming stage race — now in it’s 13th year.
WHEN: October 20-22, 2023
WHERE: The Upper Highland Lakes in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.
LAKES INCLUDED: Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, and Marble Falls.
WHY: For fitness, competition, camaraderie, fun & the challenge of racing in the Highland Lakes.
TIMES: Check-in 8:15am / Race Start approximately (but no earlier than) 9:00 a.m. daily.
EVENT MENU: Weekend Warrior Challenge, 3 days of Single Stage Warrior Swims, a short loop (at LBJ) for those getting their feet wet in open water. All swims are no wetsuit swims . . . just you, your suit, goggles and tow-behind safety buoy 🙂
is this for me?
KNOW YOUR LIMITS: Safety is our prime consideration. Please know your limits. The Highland Lakes Challenge swims are not for beginners. It is not the time to test your open water swimming skills. You should be healthy and in good swimming shape and, especially if swimming multiple days, have had comparable long distance swimming experience prior to this event. You will be asked to submit 3k & 5k times.
COURSE CHALLENGES — While we are usually greeted by a serene glassy lake in the morning, it is not unusual for conditions to change and for swimmers to be additionally challenged by wind, rough waters, currents or dropping temperatures on top of the race distance. The course does not always parallel the shore and Mother Nature, as a reminder, can sometimes be unforgiving. It is not for the casual swimmer. Please be sure that you are mentally and physically equipped for extreme conditions such as those mentioned, and are able to finish the race in the allotted time.
IF YOU HAVE DOUBTS — If you have concern about your ability to complete the distances under the specified pace please do not enter. Consider training for next year’s event or come join us on a kayak!
AT YOUR OWN RISK — All entrants participate at their own risk. A limited number of safety paddlers will provide visibility for the course and “eyes on” but ultimately it is a swimmers’ responsibility to navigate the course safely within their own physical abilities. Every swimmer will be required to bring and wear a safety swim-bouy to help provide greater visibility of swimmers on the course. We will have a limited number of swim buoys for rent. Of course, we welcome your paddling friends!
ELIGIBILITY: Open to Adults 18 and older and youth (with entry approval of Race Director) 14-17 years old.
WEEKEND WARRIOR: 3 consecutive weekend days:
— Day 1: Inks Lake 3.2mi (5k)
— Day 2: Lake LBJ 2.2mi (3.2k)
— Day 3: Lake Marble Falls 3.2mi (5k)
SINGLE STAGES: Swim one or more of the above. Day 1 at at LBJ a “Short Loop” 1.2mi (2k) is available.
AWARDS: Special awards will be given to the top (3) overall placers in the Weekend Warrior division. A coupon for a WHOLE PIE from the Bluebonnet Cafe will be awarded to each day’s first overall finisher.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PIE: Each day all participants & volunteers will receive a certificate good for a slice of pie from the Bluebonnet Cafe.
REGISTRATION: Be an early-bird and enter now. Fees will increase September 20th and late fees kick in October 9th. Event shirt available for purchase with your registration. Shirt availability not guaranteed after 10/6.
NO REFUNDS: Due to the nature of the event no refunds, transfers, deferrals, or discounts will be given should you not be able to attend or if the event should be cancelled. MORE INFO HERE.
time limits / lake conditions
TIME LIMITS: Time limits for each course will be based on an approximate 35 min open water swim mile (faster than 2-2:10 open water or 1:45 per 100y pool pace). Depending on the distance of the race & lake conditions time limits may be adjusted at the race coordinator’s discretion.
— Swimmers exceeding the pace of the time limit may be pulled from the race at any time. Our on-water safety crew will act to remove swimmers from the course at the designated race time limits unless there are extenuating circumstances and the time limit is extended (determined by the race coordinator). Swimmers not completing the course in the specified amount of time will appear in race results without a time or “dnf” but will maintain eligibility to swim the next day, if entered.
LAKE CONDITIONS: The historical water temperature for this event for these lakes in late October has ranged from 79 down to approximately 65 degrees. No certain temperature can be anticipated until the race happens, of course. Reminder: we’re in Texas. If you are not used to swimming long distances in water in this range, it is highly recommended that you prepare for the water conditions with regular swims in similar or colder water. (Barton Springs usually ranges from 68-70 degrees. Deep Eddy Pool is usually 68-72 degrees.) That said, with the drought and current above average heat index, preparation for warmer water, hydration efforts, etc. is also of importance in your entry consideration.
race safety / paddlers
Your organizers highly respect the “swim under any condition” attitude of most open water swimmers and, as you may already know, we do our best to provide the opportunity for our race participants to swim. Should extreme weather be a factor, our first step is always to consider postponing the start time of the race that morning within the limit permitted by conditions and venue permissions.
ESCORT PADDLERS: Swim support crew has fun, too! We welcome and appreciate your “on-water” friends & fans as they help provide extra “eyes on” the course & better “visibility” such that boaters (of which there are usually very few) will more likely notice something is going on. Paddlers will receive a coupon for a piece of pie at the Bluebonnet Cafe each day they paddle.
— Let us know if your kayaker is interested & willing to paddle multiple days . . . the more the merrier! Remember to order an extra t-shirt for your paddler. Shirt free for paddlers participating all 3 days.
— Make sure your paddler is also fit and confident in his or her abilities — Mother Nature has had great fun on many a windy day making it quite challenging for paddlers as well as swimmers.
— SWIMMER & PADDLER SAFETY BRIEFING every morning.
rules & policies
Go here to see RULES & POLICIES
We will post notices/updates, when possible, to the “Updates” page (coming) on this website. We’ll also do our best to contact participants at the emails submitted at registration.
Courses subject to change dependent upon changing conditions.
LINK to more info on race sites