About John Shrum Memorial Cable Swims

The annual John Shrum Memorial swim is one of the longest-running open water events in the country. Masters swimmers of all ages, backgrounds, and corners of the globe have been flocking here to compete in the 2-mile race every summer since 1977. The Virginia Masters Swim Team (VMST) has hosted the event since 1981, and its storied history includes more than a dozen occasions where the race also served as a USMS 2-mile cable national championship. Because a cable swim is measured and surveyed to precisely ¼ mile (440 yards), the one and two-mile cable distances are the only open water events in which USMS maintains national records. Chris Greene Lake has witnessed many records over the years; in fact, more than half of the current USMS records on the books for the 2-miler took place in these waters. A one-mile cable swim was added to the docket in 2008.

At the John Shrum Memorial and in other “cable” swims, the course is marked by a cable stretched tautly between two fixed points. At John Shrum Memorial, the fixed points are two wooden pylons that extend 4 feet above the surface. The cable is a sturdy rope marked with buoys every 5 meters to keep it floating on the surface. Athletes swim down one side of the cable for a quarter-mile straightaway, go around the pylon, and come back the other side. After four laps around that circuit (2-mile) or two laps (1-mile), swimmers sprint for two giant orange buoys that mark the finish. The start is staggered in waves of 10 swimmers, seeded fastest-to-slowest in 30-second intervals. Here is a simple diagram of the course layout:

Chris Greene Lake cable course layout