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JMLS – 30 years later

The Jim McDonnell Lake Swim celebrates 30 years with a special celebrity, Shirley Loftus-Charley, the only swimmer who never missed the event! Shirley’s long career is marked by a prodigious list of records won; in every U.S. Masters Swimming category in open water and pool events! It was no surprise when her Virginia Masters newsletter announced (March 12, 2017)
that she (and her daughter, Amy Charley) were the top Long Distance All Stars for 2016: “…the very best masters swimmers in the country in their age group”. Here Shirley tells us about her history with the Lake Swim in a very personal way.

The Jim McDonnell Lake Swim is a very special event for me. I lived in Reston from 1977 until 1984 and joined Reston Masters Swim Team (RMST) soon after it was formed. I loved being on the team and I made some great lifetime friends. In 1984 my family moved outside of Charlottesville to Afton, VA. The hardest part about the move was leaving my good swimming buddies behind. But in 1988 RMST held the first Reston 2-mile Lake swim. What a great way to meet up with my old friends every year! Some of my old buddies, including Jim McDonnell, Terry Smith and my Charlottesville swimming partner John Shrum, who competed in numerous Reston Lake Swims, have passed away. On race day their spirits are always with me. Both my children, Craig and Amy, have also competed in the race. As a matter of fact, Craig’s first open water swim was in 2003. It was pouring rain; the water temperature was 61 degrees and the air was colder. Surprisingly, he really enjoyed it (I told him most Reston swims weren’t that brutal).


Larry Curran, Neil Medoff, Shirley Loftus-Charley, Mike Delean and Mike Watson

Every Memorial Week-end I come back to Reston, meet up with my old buddies, reminisce about the good times and I hang out with all the new friends I have made over the past 30 years! The Reston Lake swim is my favorite open water event and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

A few years before the Lake Swim started, some of us were working out in Lake Thoreau. We (Larry Curran, Neil Medoff, me, Mike Delean and Mike Watson) saw a commotion at the end of the lake and swam down to see what was going on.  There were some people with buckets of minnows and a newspaper photographer.  They were putting carp in the lake to cut down on the lake grass/weeds.  So being the social Reston Masters we were we introduced ourselves as the “Carp Welcoming Committee” and offered the fish some yummy weeds.


2019 Jim McDonnell Lake Swim



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