MSF Documented Swim
July 22-23, 2016
15 hours, 41 minutes
Observed & Documented by Dave Van Mouwerik
- Name: Scott Kaloust
- Age on swim date: 46
- Nationality: USA
- Resides: Redwood City, CA
- Selected Swim Resume
- NaPali coast of Kauai (17 miles) in 2012
- LongSwimsDB profile
- Route Description: Crossing of Lake Tahoe (south to north), from Camp Richardson Beach to Hyatt Beach in Incline Village
- Route Type: Straight-line, point-to-point, clearing the water at start and finish
- Route Distance: 21.3 statute miles
Camp Richardson, west of South Lake Tahoe, CA [38° 56.301 N, 120° 2.333 W]
Hyatt Beach, Incline Village, CA [39° 14.263 N, 119° 56.678 W]
- Escort Boat: Ghost Rider, South Lake Tahoe, CA
- Pilot: Tom Linthicum
- Observer: Dave Van Mouwerik
- Kayakers: Mike Fero, Lisa Sheeper
- Support Crew: Jana Matena, Makay Sheeper
- Start time: Friday, July 22, 2016. 20:45:40 local time (Pacific Daylight)
- Finish time: Saturday, July 23, 2016. 12:26:52
- Elapsed time: 15 hours, 41 minutes, 12 seconds
- Lake temperature: 61.3F to 64.8F
- Air temperature: 58F to 74F
- Wind: 0-3 mph
- Waves: none
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Note that in the original log I was calculating “distance gone” on the fly. I saw that I’d made some mistakes in that, so I imported my lat/long points (above) into Google Earth and accurately measured the distances between these 17 points. So there will be some divergence between the “distance gone” recorded in the log, and the “distance traveled” in the above table, however the above table is correct.
Speed per Trackpoint
Friday, July 22, 2016, 19:30. The captain (Tom) and observer (Dave) motored in Ghost Rider from the Tahoe Keys Marina to Camp Richardson, and tied up at the dock there.
The swimmer (Scott) and support crew (Mike, Lisa, Jana, Makay) had driven to Camp Richardson, and were assembling their equipment on the dock. The kayak was unloaded from Ghost Rider, and Mike configured it for his first stint as kayaker. All equipment was brought on board the pilot boat; final preparations and staging was carried out.
Scott points out the direction he intends to swim.
At 20:45, Tom and Dave watched Scott enter Lake Tahoe from The Trough, directly on the east side of the Camp Richardson dock. Scott met up with the kayak and began swimming north; Tom and Dave climbed aboard the escort boat and, along with the support crew, we were underway. We met up with the swimmer past the dock, among the moored boats.
Scott swam off the starboard side of the escort boat, on the far side of the kayak, which was being paddled by Mike. It appeared that Scott settled into his swim quickly, with a solid 58 SPM (strokes per minute). His stroke was strong; he put 2 miles behind him in the first hour. Water temperatures were in the 62-63F range; air temperature at 64F. Scott fed every thirty minutes. Generally his feeding plan was like this: Perpetuem for three feedings, and then at each two hour mark he had coconut water, PB&J sandwiches, and Endurolyte tabs.
At 22:35, the moon rose from the Nevada side of the lake; the swim was fairly illuminated from the moon for the entire night. There was an arc to this swim unlike any that I have observed. 3.5 hours into the swim, shortly after midnight, our crew felt like Scott’s SPM had decreased. But no, it was a reasonable 55, just a shade off of his starting 58 SPM. Yet we noticed that there was something that sounded less energetic in his stroke.
By 00:45, Scott’s SPM had dropped to 50. This was meaningful–only 4 hours into the swim, his SPM had declined by 13%. Hmmmmm… At 01:02 Mike came out, and Lisa went in to kayak for Scott. Over the next 4 hours, the sound of Scott’s stroke grew ever less energetic. His SPM gradually declined; Over the next 3 hours his SPM continued to drop: 49….47…46…and by 04:45 it was down to 45. This was down 22% from his initial stroke rate.
We wondered if the water temperature (still just above 61F) was chilling him down—maybe he was getting hypothermic, and losing some of his drive. We could not get a good look at his face to see how he appeared, but the kayakers reported that he seemed fine, and he too, at feedings, reported that he was doing okay. So, no hypothermia, we surmised.
At 04:05, Lisa came off the kayak, and Mike went back in. By 04:45 the eastern sky was beginning to lighten up. Scott was really struggling. Over the last couple of hours he was complaining of cramps (I did not think to ask if these were leg or stomach cramps…..hmmmm… next time I will be sure to ask the swimmer for clarification when they say they have cramps). Scott had been trying his alternate feed (broth), but things did not seem to be going well. Eventually Scott started eating GU, and (I think) drinking cola and mountain dew at some of his feedings. It seemed that maybe the GU was re-energizing him.
At 06:00, the sun was still not visible, and Scott declared he very much wanted the sun to come up. By 06:45, the sun had indeed risen, and Lisa replaced Mike on the kayak. Water temperature was a high 61F. The air temperature had pretty much held steady all night (58F from 23:45 on Friday until 06:50 on Monday).
I think a pivotal point in the swim happened at a feeding at 06:50. Scott asked us how much further he had to swim. We worried if this information would break his spirit, but we told him the hard truth: “just under eight miles” (he had 7.8 miles left). He did not have any response to that, but simply put his head down and swam on. This must have been very tough on him, but from this point on, it seemed that he found some resolve to get this swim done.
At 07:23 he took some Advil, and although his SPM was still a meager 49, there was obviously some greater energy in his stroke. I think he’d turned some sort of corner. From here on, his SPM climbed steadily—back up to 55 by 08:57, and then at 10:05 it settled in at 53, where it remained for the duration of the swim.
Throughout the morning the water temperature rose back to 63F (eventually reaching a high of 64.8). Jana swam with him from 08:03 until 08:45. Air temperatures rose also—by 10:00 it had climbed to 74F. Things were going in Scott’s favor now. And the conditions really cooperated throughout the entire swim. While the lake was not always quite as glassy as this picture, in general the lake remained flat all throughout Scott’s swim.
By 10:05 Sand Harbor gradually disappeared from our view; its disappearance seemed to take forever. Mike jumped in and swam with Scott at 10:15. Due to increased boat traffic, Tom had them swim off the port side of the escort boat, with Lisa on the kayak.
At 11:29, Scott took a feeding, and there were about 1.2 miles remaining. Scott would feed one final time after this, and then he would complete his swim. The escort boat and the kayaker led Scott through the final 500 yards of the swim, as Scott picked his way through the moorings just off of Hyatt Beach. When the boat could go no further, Scott turned to us, gave a fist pump, and then completed this remarkable swim across the length Lake Tahoe, with Lisa beside him in the kayak.
What was so remarkable about this swim? Take a look at the SPOT TRACKS shown earlier in this report. Each point represents approximately 15 minutes in time. By the time Scott crossed the state line, those points became densely packed—he was not traveling very fast. There was a prolonged period of time where he was often traveling less than a mile an hour.
Or look at the summary table under HOURLY PROGRESS that shows various metrics at each hour. From hour 1 to hour 6 there was a steady decline in speed from 1.97 mph down to 1.40 mph. Then between hour 7 and hour 10 Scott was mostly achieving less than 1 mile per hour. The SPM measurements in this table provide additional evidence of the Scott’s gradual decline, followed by the turn-around starting around 06:45 on Saturday morning.
Or again, look at the SCATTER PLOT OF SCOTT’S RATE OF TRAVEL. This graph plots Scott’s rate of travel against time. See the obvious trough that Scott had swum his way into… Who recovers from that? From my experience as an observer, data like these are virtually a guaranteed “failed swim”.
By rights, Scott should have called it quits at 06:30 on Saturday morning. But…Scott found something in himself that morning on Lake Tahoe; he turned a corner. After 10 hours of swimming, having dropped to less than a mile per hour, and having been told he had 8 miles left to swim, Scott found some resolve to take this swim back. It took him another 5.5 hours to achieve his success, but achieve it he did.
This was a gritty and unflinching effort.
I observed this swim from start to finish, and I affirm that it was conducted in strict accordance with the Rules and the Spirit of Marathon Swimming, as articulated by both the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association and Marathon Swimmers Federation.
Dave Van Mouwerik
Board Member of SBCSA and Marathon Swimmer
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Lake Tahoe is 6,224 feet above sea level; it is the largest alpine lake in North America.
July 22, 2016
- Sunset 20:20*
- Civil Twilight 20:20 to 20:50 (“gray light”)
- Moonrise 20:11
- Moon illumination 92.9%
July 23, 2016
- Civil Twilight 05:23 to 5:54 (“gray light”)
- Sunrise 05:54
- Moonset 09:54
(* Times are military and local—Pacific Daylight Time)
Format of this report
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