MSF Documented Swim

Jaimie Monahan
Lake Como
29.3 miles (47.2 km)
20 hours, 26 minutes
September 7-8, 2016
Documenter: Janine Serell

Swimmer

  • Name: Jaimie Monahan
  • Age on swim date: 37
  • Nationality: United States
  • Resides: New York, New York, USA

Swim Route

Support Personnel

  • Gianni Marco - pilot
  • Janine Serell - observer
  • Arik Thormahlen - crew

Swim Data

  • Start: September 7, 2016. 11:10 (CEST)
  • Finish: September 8, 2016. 7:36 (CEST)
  • Elapsed: 20 hours, 26 minutes

Summary of Conditions

Great conditions, warm water, warm air and variable winds throughout day/night.

  • Water Temp: 60 (low) – 78 (high)
  • Air Temp: 62 (low) - 78 (high)
  • Wind Speed: 3-7 mph
  • Other Notable Events: Beautiful September day, had to cross through a windsurfing school near start of swim which was a little nerve-wracking, but our pilot was top-notch. At night we also encountered fast moving ferries and fishermen in unlighted boats but Gianni took great care of us.

GPS Track

Trackpoint interval: 1 hour

Download track (csv)

Speed per Trackpoint

Observer Log

Download PDF

Narrative

Lake Como is an alpine lake in the Lombardy region of Italy. By many accounts it is the most beautiful lake in the world, and it certainly has inspired hundreds of writers, artists, and musicians. Wordsworth, Shelley, Byron, Verdi, Liszt, da Vinci, and even Hitchcock found their muse on and in gorgeous Lake Como and many people who could live anywhere in the world have chosen to spend time in this stunning place.

On the marathon swim circuit, an annual race from Dervio-Lecco (20 miles/32 km) was popular for years and has attracted many world class swimmers including Kev Murphy, Mike Read and Leardo (Leo) Callone. Callone was born and raised near Lake Como and completed many top marathon swims in Italy and abroad. In 1989 Callone completed a lengthwise crossing of Lake Como from Colico to Como (29 miles/48km) in 15 hours and 33 minutes.

The lake is shaped like an inverted Y or a pair of pants, with the top of the lake starting at the small town of Gera Lario, then splitting at Bellagio into two branches or “legs,” one ending at the town of Como, and the other ending at the town of Lecco. We chose to chart a course from Gera Lario to Como as looking at the map, Gera Lario seemed like the true “top” of the lake, and then the Como leg was slightly longer and seemed like a more exciting and historic finish point than Lecco.

We arranged the boat and pilot through website ClickandBoat.com (kind of like an Air BNB for boats) on just a few days’ notice. It was very easy to use and the owner Simone and pilot Gianni were wonderful. The start of the swim was uneventful, we motored up to Gera Lario from Moregallo Marine Center which took about 30 minutes then found a quiet beach by a lighthouse to start the swim. The boat couldn’t go all the way in so I jumped off, swam to shore, and then got back in to start the swim. Weather was nice and the water pleasant. Lots of cute little villas and beautiful mountains at the top of the lake.

After a few hours we hit some fairly strong wind. This coincided with having to navigate through a windsurfing school, which was a bit nerve-wracking for swimmer and crew. My speed dropped and it was stressful but we passed through the windy area after about two hours. Late afternoon we saw several sea planes landing and taking off which was fun to watch. We headed towards Bellagio for most of the day and reached the fork in the lake around sunset.

After sunset we passed small towns and large villas all lit up at night. There wasn’t much traffic on the lake this time of year (mid-September) but as it got darker we got closer to Como which meant periodic fast moving commuter ferries zipping by in the night. Gianni did a great job of guarding me with the boat and keeping us safe. In addition to the ferries, in the late night/early morning we passed by several fishing boats without lights and large nets so he also did a great job of navigating us around those.

Around sunrise we started to see the town of Como, and so many gorgeous villas and even castles lit up in the morning light. Janine got in for a sunrise swim and joked that she was swimming to George Clooney’s house for a coffee. About an hour after sunrise we were approaching Como town center and headed towards the ferry terminal. I swam into the marina and had just passed the sculpture of “The Life Electric,” by architect Daniel Libeskind, dedicated to the physicist Alessandro Volta when a ferry came barreling towards us. I scrambled back into the boat as fast as I could to avoid getting smooshed! Once I was back on the boat we celebrated the swim and Gianni even offered to take us around the lake to see the rest of the sights we hadn’t seen! After 21 hours we declined his very kind offer but his dedication was above and beyond! We enjoyed the ride back up to Moregallo – overall a beautiful and exciting swim.

Photos

Video