The annual Chris Greene Lake 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 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. The course record of 38:32, set by James Kegley on July 9, 1988, remains the fastest 2-mile cable swim ever recorded in a USMS-sanctioned race.
At Chris Greene and in other “cable” swims, the course is marked by a cable stretched tautly between two fixed points. At Chris Greene, 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, swimmers sprint for two giant orange buoys that mark the finish line of the 2-mile race. There are two heats (clockwise and counter-clockwise direction), and 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.