Lake Tahoe

slowmoslowmo Member
edited June 2012 in General Discussion
So I have made up my mind to swim across lake Tahoe. I'm thinking next Aug/Sept so any and all information reguarding this swim would really be appreciated. I just did an 8hr swim this past Fri and really enjoyed myself which leads me to the next question, pace. I know everyone has there own pace but for swims of this length I would think you would like to keep a certain pace due to water temps and such not. I happen to fall in and around 2-2.2mph, I'm just not sure what my stroke count is but during my swim I was told that I looked smooth right up until the end. Thanks!


  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Earlier this year @Jamie and a few others founded a new organization to support Tahoe swims - the Lake Tahoe Swimming Society. Not sure if you've seen their website, @slowmo?
  • slowmoslowmo Member
    I will have to check them out...slow motion...thanks!
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    When you complete your swim you get a belt buckle. Tahoe is on my list for 2014.
  • slowmoslowmo Member
    I see that and I will let you know how the process goes Mike should be a great swim. The water looks great. I just did an 8hr session a week ago and felt great when I was done but talk about poor water quality, I could hardly see my feet in the I look foward to a clear water swim.
  • @slowmo, not sure if you have swum in Tahoe before but I attempted a width (11 miles) crossing last summer with about 10 others and pulled out at about 6.5 with nausea/stomach issues but going again this August and going to finish come hell or high water, so two things I learned may be of interest. One, the elevation had no effect, it was the only thing I didn't/couldn't really train for in the SF Bay but it felt no different than breathing at sea level. Two, the beautiful, crystal clear, ultra pure, drinkable water you are swimming in is not very dense so the feeds become a bit of work. Unlike the lovely, dense salt water, I found myself really working to be able to keep my head at a level I could use my hands to feed. Temp was perfect 64-67, water mostly like glass, and boat traffic became an issue (not a big issue) as it got closer to noon. Targeting a length crossing myself for next summer.
  • slowmoslowmo Member
    Thanks for the info, I really look foward to some clean clear water and that temp range is perfect. I was curious about the elevation and what if any effects would be felt.
    I had some issues last year with my stomach getting upset but some solid food really helped me out. I'm going to start maing my plans in Sept for next summer, will have talk it could be fun doing a joint take off if we could pick a date that worked.
  • @slowmo - Definitely let's connect on the crossing. I am talking with one of my buddies that I swim with that did the width crossing with me as well last year and may do it again this year. We can really save a few bucks with a couple of swimmers. One of our swim group is Patti Bauernfeind who did length 2 or 3 years ago and holds fastest time record (I think?) and several other people in our swim group were her crew so we can recruit the support team from people I swim with several times a week. Will also seriously look at the schedule in the fall.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    So, @slowmo, did you do the swim? I'd still like to do Tahoe in 2014, but have to do it "early" 2014 for work reasons. I'm saying like May. Wonder how cold the Lake'll be then!?!
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    @ironmike- not totally sure, but I think Tahoe in May is still pretty cold. I think most crossings are late July- early August. I know my lakes in CO are usually in the low 50s in May and don't hit 60s until June. Tahoe's at a similar elevation, so I'd guess it warms up similarly. Jamie's the expert tho!
  • heartheart San Francisco, CAMember
    FWIW, Tahoe was 62 degrees in August of last year.
  • oxooxo New Member
    edited April 2013
    In both 2010 and 2011, over the 2 months from May 1st to July 1st, the water temperature rose from 6C to 13C (43F to 56F) as recorded by buoys in the middle of the lake.


    Lake Tahoe Surface currents:
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    oxo said:

    In both 2010 and 2011, over the 2 months from May 1st to July 1st, the water temperature rose from 6C to 13C (43F to 56F) as recorded by buoys in the middle of the lake.

    You rock, oxo, thanks! bookmarking that site now.
  • trouttrout Member
    My advice is to practice occasionally in cold water, if available. You may me able to swim 10 miles in a pool or warm water lake, but it's another thing to spend that much time in a lake under 60 degrees.
  • My buddy and I just did the width two weeks ago and it went really well. We went from the dam in Tahoe City to Sand Harbor (11.65 miles). One day he kayaked while I swam and two days later we switched. We had a radio with the coast guard band and some good lighting (we started at 4:30am) and that felt like enough safety-wise. We both got cold during the swim (water was about 65 degrees) but never got even close to hypothermia levels. If you want more detailed info you can look at our (slightly) entertaining youtube video that sort of combines the two crossings into one little story...

    P.S. the celebratory Coors at the stateline (7.5 miles in) ended up just being a sip!
  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    Cindy Hertzer begins a Tahoe crossing tomorrow morning at 1am local, hoping for an 11hr trip. SPOT at

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • Thanks @malinaka! I channeled the energy of others I knew or thought might be watching from time zone East of PDT (including positive mindset coach @jenschumacher- highest praise for her work which was essential for getting me past prior mental limits) and that helped me get through more dark, cold hours than I've ever done in my life.

    We didn't finish the length crossing but I am safe and sound after this : (terse detail about team observation of MSF rules in Garmin comments).

    My deepest gratitude for coach and crew - exceptionally experienced personally as cold/Marathon swims and crew. Also my new to OW piloting exceptional local pilot was a great asset as well, helping read the weather, stepping up to manage multiple aspects of the boat rental, and causing exceptionally minimal frustration for me on the attempt.

    Too early to consider if I will make another attempt later this season or just later. Gory details later. Resting comfortably now feeling deep gratitude for all the support I've received (including the Lake granting me permission for a relatively easy crossing after prior assisted widths were met with Force 4/5 winds) and dolphins who came in to within 50 of me while I gazed in awe -- a first for me to see them while swimming in Monterey Bay.

    Observer data to follow, may cross post into the lessons learned thread.
  • Tahoe is the warmest it's been in ages. Also pretty low, so some shore rocks may cause some shore hugging kayaks knocks. There are several routes- The traditional Olympic Club route- Sand Harbor NV to Chambers Landing (~14 miles) across the deepest part of the lake. Dave Kenyon did that is 1986 or so as a solo. He did the length N-S in 1987(?) There is a database done by Dean Moser, who was the pilot for Dave on his length swim. Fred Rogers did another route, also about 14 miles in something like the 60's ( although I may be off by 10 yrs or so. The Sand Harbor to Skylandia Beach route ( about 10miles) has been adopted in the past 10-15 yrs or so by the OC and numerous SERC'ers have done it solo. It's doable with out a motor boat as it pretty much hugs the shore. Gorgeous lake. A tough challenge for us salt water folks!

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach

  • jenschumacherjenschumacher Charter Member
    @cynswims Thank you for the kind words. You did great work mentally preparing for this swim and it was a pleasure to work with you. Rest and recover well. Always better to live to swim another day :)
  • This is a little late to be inquiring, but my own channels are running thin at this point and time is counting down...:

    I'm prepping to attempt a Lake Tahoe swim in just over a week (September 15th), and while just about everything has come together in terms of organization, finding a full crew has been difficult. As has been said before, there's nothing "solo" about a solo-swim.

    I currently have three crew members. One member (and the owner of my boat) has completed the swim twice himself. The other two are experienced ultra-distance athletes, although neither are swimmers. What I'm really in need of right now, is someone (or two) that can handle a kayak.

    All the equipment is already on the boat, so I'm really just in need of another body or two.

    My crew and I are planning on driving up from the SF Bay Area on the morning of Sunday, September 14th. We're anticipating a midnight launch (weather forecast permitting), and I'm expecting about a 12-13 hour swim (finishing between 12:00 and 1:00 pm Monday afternoon).

    The plan right now is to carpool up on Sunday, and come back on Tuesday after everybody has had some recovery time. Our vehicle is a Chevy Tahoe (how appropriate), which can seat seven - so we can take extra crew with us.

    If anybody is available to help out, or if you know somebody who can, please, please send me a message.

    I've learned a ton about organizing personal swims doing this... but I think the biggest thing I'll take away is: It's never too early to start planning.

    Thank you in advance to anybody/everybody who might be able to help or advise!

  • Have you considered going without a kayak? When I did the length of Tahoe last year I had a pontoon boat as escort with driver/expert/coach Jamie and my husband as spotter/feeder on board. Seems like if your boat is accessible, i.e your feeder can get down to water level to hand you things and get a look at your face to monitor your emotional state, you can do with only a motorized escort. Just my opinion, though, as I certainly do not profess to be an expert! It is really nice to have a kayaker alongside you, though, so I can see why that could be considered optimal.
  • I finished my 21.25 mile crossing in 13 hours, 46 minutes and 5 seconds. I'll write up a full report in the swim reports thread a little later, but I wanted to post a huge, huge thank you to my crew:

    Pilot: Tom Linthicum
    Nutritionist: Clyde Butt
    Kayaker: Ryan Thompson
    Pilot/Nutritionist/Kayaker: Phil MacFarlane

    With out each and every one of these fine gentlemen my swim would not have happened. The fact that it went so smooth and that I didn't have to think about anything but swimming is a credit to the fine job they did. Thank you guys so very much!
  • MikeHMikeH Member
    edited October 2014
    Anyone have experience planning & executing swims across Lake Tahoe? I'm planning future swims and looking for thoughts, experience, etc on this possibility...

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited October 2014
    Merged @MikeH's question with the previous thread....
  • Thanks!
  • Hi all-- I am planning on doing Tahoe this summer 2015 in mid July. I have all my puzzle pieces except the local captain. Can anyone recommend a captain and boat for hire? Thanks!!!!
  • TomHeckerTomHecker San Diego, California. USAMember
    edited November 2014

    The boat captain I used is Geoff Hanlon. I don't think he is escorting swimmers any more, but when I asked he said to have you contact him and he would check to see if he could get someone for you. He is located in South Lake Tahoe.

    Geoff Hanlon
    tahoefishhound AT gmail DOT com

    If you go and are in need of lodging, eating and swimming hole recommendations let me know and I will direct you.

    Have a great swim. Swimming the length of Lake Tahoe is one of my favorites.

    Tom Hecker
    mobile: +1 858-395-9853
    janettaplace AT yahoo DOT com

  • Is it important for this particular swim to have a local captain? I've been tentatively planning to bring an experienced boater / pilot...but simply rent a boat locally.
  • TomHeckerTomHecker San Diego, California. USAMember
    Hi Mike,

    Not necessarily a need for experienced captain. After all you are going from point A to point B what could happen? (I've heard that before!) It is helpful having someone on the boat that knows the lake. The person with the most experience of the swims on the lake is Ken Harmon. You may want to talk to him. Or any recent swimmer on their experience.
  • I swam Tahoe in 2013 and utilized SWA Watersports, Since I only live a couple of hours away (in Davis), my schedule was pretty flexible, so I engaged quite a bit with the owner of SWA (Gerald) in terms of picking the very best day to go, weather, etc. He was outstanding with the advice and willing to do whatever. On "game day," he had his guy drive the boat down to the dock at Camp Richardson, so we loaded everything up there, and away we went. (We had parked a van at the Hyatt Incline the day before so we had a car at the other end). The cost was $1,100, which I thought was pretty good. It was essentially a ski boat, but big enough to hold my crew of 4.

    There were a few downers, the primary one being lack of GPS. The boat captain, who was new to Tahoe, and my crew were eyeballing it, and the SPOT Tracker later showed we did a little extra swimming. I mentioned this to Gerald afterward, and he said he did have another boat with GPS, and may be adding GPS to his other boats in the future. The second, unforeseen downer was that that boat had to go in before dark as they didn’t want to moor it overnight due to the wind. We were about an hour out from shore when the boat had to go in, and we had a kayak, so I did have someone to kayak me in the rest of the way. Gerald was apologetic about that too.

    That said, I would recommend SWA without reservations, just making sure the GPS is covered somehow, and that the boat will remain the entire way.

    If looking for a place to say, I rented this cabin, which was about 10 minutes away. It was perfect for me and my crew,

    Good luck.
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