Massachusetts

Open-Water Swimmers Go Against the Current of Walden Pond's Restrictions

Open-water swimmers have a designated section where they can enter the pond outside the ropes

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Massachusetts has limited open-water swimming at historic Walden Pond, a popular place for experienced swimmers and competitive athletes to train.

As the second summer of restrictions begins, open-water swimmers say the state's focus is misplaced and that they're being unfairly targeted.

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Last summer, in response to drownings across the state, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation banned open-water swimming at the pond. There was an uproar and the ban quickly turned into restrictions -- which are back this year.

Most swimmers are required to stick inside the ropes while lifeguards are on duty. Open-water swimmers have a designated section where they can enter the pond outside the ropes, and they stand out from other visitors with buoys that they swim with, wet suits and swim caps.

Walden Pond is among the places trying to keep people from drowning amid a spate of incidents this summer.

Violating the restrictions could mean getting a fine from a state trooper.

"Open-water swimming is not a risk-free endeavor, but we assume that risk ourselves by taking part in the sport," said Elaine Howley, of the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association.

The associations argues the state should place more resources on teaching water safety and swimming.

Those monitoring the pond's beach say the issue is non-experienced swimmers thinking they too can swim across the open water.

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