MSF Documented Swim
- Name: Nemanja “Sofra” Spasojevic
- Age on swim date: 34
- Nationality: Serbia
- Resides: San Francisco, CA
- Selected Swim Resume
- Portland Bridge Swim. 4 hrs. 44 min. (11 miles) in 2013
- Catalina Channel. 10 hrs. 58 min. (20.2 miles) in 2016
- Member of SERC (South End Rowing Club), San Francisco, CA
- 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 & Support Crew: Michael Heffernan, Michelle Squyer, John Walker
- Start time: Friday, August 19, 2016, 20:43:35 local time (Pacific Daylight)
- Finish time: Saturday, August 20, 2016, 07:23:51
- Elapsed time: 10 hours, 40 minutes, 16 seconds
- Lake temperature: 66.4F to 68.4F
- Air temperature: 60F to 68F
- Wind: 0-2 mph
- Waves: none
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In the original log my notations for distance were labelled “done” and “to go”. So, for example, at 21:43 I had indicated “2.34 done” and “19.00 to go”. The 2.34 is the actual distance the boat travelled (e.g. the GPS “track”), whereas the 19.00 was the remaining distance to get to the Finish Point. In the table above, the “Distance in an Hour” notes the distance travelled away from the start in an hour, and the “Distance Gone” is the cumulative distance travelled from the start. Thus the “actual distance travelled” has been discarded in the table above.
Speed per Trackpoint
Friday, August 19, 2016, 19:40. 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.
[A word about Sofra’s feedings. Sofra’s first feeding was at the one hour mark; thereafter he fed every 40 minutes. Plan A was (at each feeding) to have 1 GU, and a mix of CarboPro + water + cherry syrup; the CarboPro mix was diluted down to ~16 scoops per gallon). He had a well-devised Plan B, but never needed to resort to that. He also planned to take ibuprofen around hours 4 to 6, and to take GU Roctane with caffeine at 8+ hours into the swim. He carried these out, as planned.]
Sofra’s crew was assembling gear and getting Michael’s kayak staged on the Camp Richardson beach, prior to the crossing. Below are Michael, Michelle, and Sofra in the parking lot. Also below is a picture of the Camp Richardson dock in the declining light of the day of August 19.
We were aiming to get the swim started by 20:45. Here, on the beach in front of The Trough (the area just to the east of the dock), John and Michael were finalizing preparations for the kayak, as Sofra stood by.
We got all gear for the support crew stowed on Ghost Rider, and then, once Sofra and his kayaker were set up, we sat at one of the picnic tables on the Camp Richardson dock, to go over the rules for the swim. Once this was accomplished, Tom took a video of Sofra’s last words. At 20:43, Sofra, with a glow stick on his speedo and another under his goggle strap, strode into the lake to begin his swim. The swim was underway, with Michael leading Sofra out beside the dock, and then through the collection of boats that were moored beyond the dock.
Tom, John, Michelle, and I walked out to the pilot boat, and were quickly underway, meeting up with swimmer and kayaker about five minutes into the swim. By 21:15, we started seeing the moon’s glow behind the eastern peaks, and then suddenly the moon herself became visible. She provided significant illumination on our project all night long.
The air temperature was 68 degrees, and throughout the swim it gradually declined, until at the end of the swim the air temperature was 60 degrees. The water temperature started out at 68.4 degrees; it declined very slowly and steadily throughout the duration of the swim. The final recorded water temperature was 66.7 degrees.
Sofra’s performance, all through the night, was as steady and even-keeled as any swim I’ve observed. He started out at 57 SPM (Strokes Per Minute), and within an hour he had settled into what seemed to be his true SPM (55). For the next eight hours his SPM stayed steady within the range of 54 and 56. Then, in the last hour of the swim it rose to 58, and at the swim end he was holding 59 SPM.
Michael paddled for Sofra until 23:02 (thus about 2 hrs. and 17 minutes). During this time, Sofra held just over 2.1 MPH. Over the course of this 10 hour and 40 minute swim, Sofra averaged just a nick over 2.0 MPH.
At 23:02 John took over as the kayaker. Once John was deployed, we realized he did not have a head lamp, so we circled back around and provided that for him. John would paddle for the next four and a half hours; all through the night Sofra just chewed up the lake, 2 more miles behind him each hour.
At 01:10, Sofra requested ibuprofen. John had this in tablet form, and I think Sofra took some of this, but then immediately requested some liquid ibuprofen that was on the boat. We got that out to John, and Sofra got his liquid fix of ibuprofen. On the boat we decided that if Sofra needed two doses of ibuprofen, then maybe he was having some problems. This was, I learned later, not the case. Sofra had a plan, all along, to take liquid ibuprofen, at a certain time. So, this was simply a planned dosage, and did not reflect any impending problem. (For future swims, I will ask up front what sorts of planned medication the swimmer has in mind….)
At 03:40, Michelle took over as kayaker for John. Sofra kept up his strong pace all through the hours leading up to dawn. Our calculations suggested that at the rate Sofra was swimming, he was on track to complete the swim in ten hours and thirty minutes. This put him in the running to beat Ryan Nelson who, just the night before, had completed the swim in ten hours 28 minutes 59 seconds. (This may be the fastest recorded time ever for the Camp Richardson / Hyatt Beach Route; we are working to assemble all known records, so that we can clearly confirm this in the future.) Ultimately Sofra completed his swim in a time that was 12 minutes slower than Ryan.
By 05:19, the eastern sky was lightening up. Tom made some coffee for himself, Michael, and me—that was a welcome drink. At a 05:43 feeding, Sofra reported seeing a legion of Indians residing down in the depths of the lake. Did he really see Indians? I don’t think so; I think he was just humoring Tom, who seems to see at least 8,000 Indians on every lake crossing. And the sky continued to lighten. We could see Sand Harbor off to our starboard side.
Ninety percent of Sofra’s swim was in darkness, so we did not get any pictures of the swim during the night time. Here is a picture, taken at about 06:12, showing Sofra swimming alongside the kayak, with Michelle paddling.
At 06:20, John jumped in to pace swim. Then, about twenty minutes later, Tom hung the SERC flag of the starboard side of the boat; Sofra howled his approval. By 06:40, the sunlight was hitting the western side of the lake; we had been underway for ten hours.
Sofra never let up his pace, and as previously stated, his SPM had climbed to 59 at the end of his swim. The Ghost Rider led Sofra among the moored boats, and then Michelle (on kayak) escorted him for the final hundred yards to the sandy Hyatt Beach. Sofra put his feet on the dry sand of the beach at virtually the same minute that sun rays began directly hitting that beach. Sofra executed an energetic, steady, high-performance swim, with no drama, in 10 hours and 40 minutes. Job well done!
After the swim, we all went to Bert’s for breakfast. Ryan Nelson (as previously noted, Ryan swam the length of the lake on August 18/19, 12 minutes faster than Sofra did) dropped by to say hello while we were eating breakfast. Below is our crew (swimmer, support crew, boat pilot, and observer) and also Tanja Milutinovic, who is Sofra’s wife.
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.
August 19, 2016
- Sunset 19:48*
- Civil Twilight 19:48 to 20:16 (“gray light”)
- Moonrise 20:46
- Moon illumination 98.8%
August 20, 2016
- Civil Twilight 05:50 to 06:19 (“gray light”)
- Sunrise 06:19
- Moonset 08:49
(* Times are military and local—Pacific Daylight Time)
Format of this report
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