Monday, 21 October 2013

Big Disappointment for our NZMS Swimmers as Slam the Dam is Cancelled due to the USA Shutdown!

Our 3 NZMS swimmers, Dawn Walker, Giles Walker and Dan Feisst, headed for Las Vegas, to participate in the 2.4 Mile event of Slam the Dam on 5 October, only to discover, on arrival 1st October, that the event had been cancelled due to the USA Government Shutdown. 

Dawn in her own words to Times Online!

"We are 3 swimmers (Dawn Walker (41), Giles Walker (37) and Dan Feisst (32)) and we all compete competitively in NZ in Masters Pool and Ocean racing- we swim for South City Masters swim club based at LLoyd Elsmore Pools. We decided last year, after 4 years of competing here (Giles and I are British) that we would love to do an overseas event and we found out about Slam the Dam. At the earliest possible opportunity (January this year) we booked out flights , 8 nights in Las Vegas and to compete in the 2.4 miles swim option. We also took along our 'team manager' Tracy Leader- a friend who was our support crew.

We train 4 to 5 times a week throughout the year anyway as through the summer months in NZ we compete in weekly ocean racing that is at least 2km. We were looking forward to the challenge of swimming non wetsuit ( as in NZ we race in wetsuits in the ocean) in 27oc fresh water.

We arrived in Las Vegas on October 1st after a 13 hour flight and as soon as we checked in to our hotel on the strip I logged on to my email only to discover an email from the event organizers to say that due to the Government shutdown the race could not get the permit passed. The race (scheduled for Saturday 5th October) was to be held in Lake Mead which is owned and controlled by the government departments- classified as non essential and therefore not open. We had hired a car to get to the race at Lake Mead from LV (about a 40min drive) so we kept the car and decided to visit some of the natural landscape features in the area but soon discovered that many of these were closed and being guarded by police patrols so that people couldn't enter. Although Lake Mead was closed, the Hoover Dam which is managed by the State, was open. The Grand Canyon is partially open, the North Rim which is owned by the native Americans is but The South Rim, managed by the government departments isn't. The knock on effect for tourism is that many organized trips are either cancelled or altered to places that are accessible and therefore booked out early on or more crowded than normal.

We were still invited to collect our race packs from the event organizers and so took a taxi trip to The Las Vegas Municipal Pool to collect them. The organizers were very apologetic that we had come so far for the event, we were the only Kiwi team to enter. They offered us some extra Slam the Dam clothing to try to make it up to us, unfortunately they weren't even able to refund the $65 event fee.

Other info which maybe of interest:

- Air New Zealand announced on the flight out there 'Good Luck to all the Slam the Dam swimmers' which appeared on all the tv screens on the airplane
- We had t shirts made and printed which we all wore on the trip out and had planned to wear on the day
- We had an article written about us for the NZ Masters swim website (
- We managed to strike a deal with The Venetian Pool in LV to use their outdoor 35m lap pool for training first thing in the morning everyday as we didn't have a lap pool at our hotel

We arrived back on 11th October."

This photo was taken on day 1 after a training session at The Venetian Casino's pool. Dan, Tracy, Dawn, Giles

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