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Member cards on the bulletin board

For 10 years now, the Minnewaska Distance Swimmers Association or “MDSA” has offered one of the best swimming experiences in Ulster County.  On Sunday, July 31 at 5:30pm, you will have your final opportunity of the summer to get in on the fun–the last swim test will be given that day at the Rosendale Community Pool .   What’s so special about it?  Read on…

MDSA certification entitles you to swim at the luxuriously long (400 yd loop), uncrowded, deep water swimming area located at the far end of Lake Minnewaska.  The water is clean, cool and the area is open only to people that have passed a swim test and paid an annual dues of $20. The reason for the swim test is that there are no lifeguards at the MDSA beach.  Swimmers are require to have “buddy” in order to swim, but a buddy can be any other swimmer at the beach (in the water or out) who will keep an eye on you.

A typical "crowd" at the MDSA Beach

Because swimmers have to be at least 16 years old (if accompanied by a guardian) and the beach is far from the upper parking lot, the area is free from the clamor or the postage-stamp sized swimming area at the other end of the lake.  The MDSA beach is serene.

A typical afternoon at the Minnewaska Public Beach

Each afternoon as I take the 12 -15 minute stroll out to the beach,  I’m always expecting to find the place overrun with people.  Yet somehow the distance and the need to take the swim test winnows the crowd to just an handful of dedicated, appreciative souls.

The test for certification is straightforward,  here are the details from the MDSA website:

The test requires 500 yards continuous swimming: 25 yards crawl, 25 yards free style back stroke, 25 yards breast stroke, 25 yards side stroke and 400 yards additional swimming any stroke plus 3 minutes of treading water. THERE IS NO TIME LIMIT. Most people complete the test in under 30 minutes, but you can take as long as you need.

So if you find yourself in the Hudson Valley and want to take advantage of one of it’s great, wet pleasures, get yourself over to the test on Sunday (7/31).  You only have to take the test once, and you’re good for all the years following.  If you miss it, the tests will start up again in the middle of June in 2012.

The swimming season at the beach runs from mid-June to Labor Day.

Lake Minnewaska State Park is located on Rt44/55 in the town of Rochester, about 2 miles past the Mohonk Preserve’s West Trapps Parking area.  The park has an $8 per carload admission fee, but you can buy an Empire Pass for $65 that allows unlimited entry (of one specific vehicle) to all New York State Parks.

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