Sarah Thomas - 81.8 mile swim in Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona
Reposted with permission from Sarah:
Ok, friends, family and Facebook stalkers, here's the scoop. Tomorrow, at around 8 am Mountain time, I plan to embark on an 81.8 mile swim from Bullfrog Marina to Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell (Utah/Arizona). I'm planning that this will take 50-60 hours. Nonstop.
When you look up "How far is it from Bullfrog to Wahweap?", you'll see that most places will say it's about 100 miles. We've spent months creating a route that is effectively the shortest distance between those two points- cutting corners across the canyons from direct point to direct point. This has been very tricky to do, since this lake was once a river and winds it's way through canyons. Additionally, the water level fluctuates a great deal, so we've used historical data and have been tracking water levels for the last 6ish months. At certain water levels, there are spires and rocks that are either above or below the water level. Currently, the water level is low, which means most rocks and spires are above water and we will need to navigate around them. I've learned more about waypoints, water pools, and navigation than I ever wanted to know. I'll spare you the details, but know many, many hours were put into creating the route. It's been shared with others outside my crew and checked and rechecked dozens of times. We have an "official route" and my observers will document any deviations from the plan. There are some unknowns on this and we've tried to be as perfect as possible, so that no matter what I won't be under 81.8 miles. When you follow this on the GPS, please remember that most maps won't show the accurate water level. We may appear on land or that we're taking an odd route around nothing, but there may be a rock in our way that doesn't show up on the Internet.
That brings me to my second point - GPS. Yes, you can follow me:
Our planned route has been programmed in, so you can see it now. Please keep in mind that we are swimming through a bunch of rocks, so the GPS signal might not always work. It's attached to a SPOT, so we're hoping it'll send a signal the entire time, but I can't guarantee it.
We will update Facebook as we can- but, again, those rocks may cause issues for us. We'll do our best. (Some updates may come from my sister, Rachel Murphy, who is on standby at home to relay any messages via text if we're out of internet, but have cell.)
I will be following the MSF Rules of Marathon swimming. Andrew Malinak and Suzie Dods are on hand as my independent and official observers. They will make sure that I start and end on water, wear only my standard swim suit, ear plugs and goggles, that I do not touch the boat and that no one touches me. They will ensure that I don't get out of the water and take a nap on the boat, and then start swimming again. They also get the job of documenting our route and explaining any issues or deviations from the plan. They surely won't be bored.
I'm also being supported by the best crew ever assembled. I have Jamie Patrick and Karl Kingery as my pilots and navigators. They'll be assisted by Scott Olson and John Baxter. Ryan Willis is my crew chief (duh), with Becky Powell, Melody Maxson, Jack Nuanes, Alice Barton, and Ken Classen rounding out my general crew. My cousin, Alex Thomas, is joining as my paramedic/medical support. That's a lot of people just to watch me swim, but between them they have hundreds of hours crewing for me, kayaking for me, and training with me. My life is quite literally in their hands. It goes without saying, but I'm gonna say it anyways - I'm forever grateful for their support on this adventure.
Water temp is around 70-72, I think. Of course, since I've been anticipating a hot swim all summer, there is a cold front moving through. Daytime temps are forecasted for mid 60s. Night time temps in the low 40s. The biggest threat is wind, which could cause all kinds of issues. So, if anyone has any say with mother nature, please pray for calm winds (or at least a tailwind). Swimming in chop is tough, but 20MPH+ headwinds really suck...
Also, worth noting, this is a current-neutral swim. There will be no advantage from tides or current on this one. (So, if I'm going 10mph, you know I'm on a boat...)
As you can see, between a navigational error, physical pain, and crazy winds, a lot could go wrong. I know I've trained, but this will take a combo of sheer will/stubbornness and a lot of luck to pull off. I'm happy to begin taking all of your prayers, postive vibes, happy thoughts, etc starting now. :-)
One more thing: Even getting to the starting point has been a major journey. I've had so much support from so many people in so many areas all summer that I couldn't even begin to list everyone. A solo swim is never just a solo swim. It takes a tribe, and I love each of you in mine immeasurably.