The Jim McDonnell Lake Swims are hosted by Reston Masters Swim Team and held each year on Memorial Day weekend. Reston Masters has held a lake swim every year since 1988. Except for 1997 and 2002, the swim has been held at Lake Audubon in Reston, VA.
2013 is the 26th consecutive year.
The swim series started as the Reston 2-Mile Lake Swim and was swum along a 1/4-mile rope until 1998 when the rope length was changed to 1/2-mile. In 1999, the swim was renamed the Jim McDonnell 2-Mile Swim in honor of Reston Masters’ team member Jim McDonnell, who died in 1998 of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Jim was a founding member of the team and was on the meet committee that organized the first swim.
For 2003, a 1-mile swim was added to the program and the event was renamed the Jim McDonnell Lake Swims. The course was changed from a rope course to the current 1 mile open water course with buoys pictured above (see enlarged version). Participants swim outside the buoys in a counter-clockwise direction staying between the buoys and the shore, once for the 1 mile swim and twice for the 2 mile swim. 2003 was also notable for the addition of online entries and electronic timing, courtesy of Lin-Mark Computer Sports. In 2008, we moved the online entries to Club Assistant.
Reston Masters has twice hosted U. S. Masters Swimming National Open Water Championships, the first time in 1997 (2-mile championships) and most recently in 2007 (1-mile championships). In 2010 JMLS joined three other events as part of the inaugural H2Open Series a national open water series managed and promoted by U.S. Masters Swimming. The series was discontinued in 2012.
In 2009 we began a quest to be a green event. To that end, we reduced the size of the packets, eliminated distribution of paper advertising (thanks to our sponsors for their cooperation), provided recycling containers at the lake and posted the meet program online and at the venue in place of a large print job. That year, ninety-five percent of our entrants chose online entries. That allowed us to continue our green trend by eliminating paper entries and providing online entries only.
Charitable donations have been a part of JMLS since 1999 when part of the proceeds from the swims were donated to Lymphoma charities. Amounts given and recipients have increased over time. Recipients over time have included Lymphoma Research Foundation, Reston Interfaith, Tender Hearts, Naval Special Warfare Foundation,LiveStrong, American Porphyria Foundation.