Horsetooth Reservoir hosts open swim


Collegian | Gregory James

The A and Horsetooth Rock’s peak July 26. The trail up to Horsetooth Reservoir serves as a popular local hike for locals and tourists alike.

Damon Cook, Sports Reporter

The Horsetooth Open Water Swim is an event that takes place at Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins. The morning started with a beautiful sunrise — the sun was bright red and cast a pink shadow over the mountain and over the reservoir. It was a cool 44 degrees, and the air was crisp and chilly.

When you arrive at Horsetooth Reservoir, you can see all of the athletes warming up and getting ready to get into the reservoir to swim. The water was 67 degrees, which was significantly warmer than the air.


The Colorado State University Swimming & Diving team, unfortunately, did not participate in the open swim meet because per USA Swimming, the combined water and air temperature must be greater than 118. Since the combined temperature was 111, CSU decided to withdraw from the race. 

“Each year, it’s different. This year, we had the cold air temperature; one year, we had dense fog; some years, we had high winds.” –Joe Bakel, Horsetooth Open Water Swim race director

Although CSU didn’t join in the race, there were still people who raced and partook in one of four events: the 10-kilometer, the 2.4-mile, the 1.2-mile and the youth swim. The energy was high before the race as the competitors got ready to take the plunge into the reservoir. You could see people jogging and doing anything they could to stay warm in the chilly air.

“The energy of the youth, the excitement, the energy level is just so great,” said Joe Bakel, Horsetooth Open Water Swim race director. 

Bakel swam in the race the first two years he was affiliated with the open swim. He also talked about how the people in charge of the race have to adapt to it year after year because of the annual weather changes. 

“Each year, it’s different,” Bakel said. “This year, we had the cold air temperature; one year, we had dense fog; some years, we had high winds.” 

Reach Damon Cook at or on Twitter @dwcook2001.