Caroline Block - Cayuga Lake

Ithaca to Cayuga

55.7 km (34.6 miles)

21 hours, 28 minutes on 10-11 June 2018

Observed and documented by Betsy Block

First south-to-north Cayuga Lake crossing



  • Name: Caroline Block
  • Gender: female
  • Age on swim date: 34
  • Nationality: US
  • Resides: Ithaca, New York

Support Personnel

  • Willie Miller - pilot
  • Kellie Latimer - crew
  • Betsy Block - observer

Escort Vessel: pontoon boat (Frontenac Harbor)

Willie and Kellie

Swim Parameters

Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.

Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: Cayuga Lake
  • Route Type: one-way

Start Location: white tower at Treman State Marine Park, Ithaca, NY (42.462575, -76.514310)

Finish Location: island northwest of Cayuga Rail Bridge (42.921193, -76.732895)

Minimum Route Distance: 55.7 km (34.6 miles)


Three previous length swims, all in N-S direction (Cayuga to Ithaca), by Claire deBoer (1984), Bridgette Hobart (2015), and David Barra (2015).

Swim Data

  • Start: 10 June 2018, 11:48, Eastern Daylight Time
  • Finish: 11 June 2018, 09:16
  • Elapsed: 21 hours, 28 minutes.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp 58F 69F
Air Temp 51F 71F
Wind calm 7 mph

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 30 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Speed Plot

Observer Log

Download PDF

Observer Notes

11:48 am Starting stats :)

12:30 pm Cloud cover burning off

1:00 pm Breeze picking up, light boat traffic

1:30 pm Swimmer happy and chatting

2:00 pm Sailboats out – breeze picking up

2:30 pm Swimmer curious about what crew is doing, wind a little more noticeable

They were trying to tape the thermometer to the boat. The pontoon sits so high in the water it was difficult for them to get the aquarium thermometers deep enough into the water. We lost one, and more importantly, the temperature readings for the whole swim are most likely higher than the actual water temp, especially when the sun was out, since the thermometer was riding on the surface.

3:00 pm Moderate boat traffic w/ wake and swell. Swimmer asks for distance info

3:30 pm Significant pollen on water surface

4:00 pm Swimmer looks strong / feels good

4:30 pm Discussion of wind direction, all is well with swimmer

5:00 pm Talked re: time elapsed, swimmer in good spirits

5:30 pm More boat traffic, approaching power plant

6:00 pm Swimmer in good spirits, more cloud cover

6:30 pm Swimmer will skip next liquid feed to have some solid food, lake broadening

7:00 pm Coke!! Boat traffic decreasing, temps dropping, 2 advil

7:30 pm ~14 miles covered

8:00 pm Warm feeds to continue, swimmer happy

8:30 pm Getting boat ready for darkness

9:00 pm Solid food for next feed

9:30 pm Coke time, cap light on

10:00 pm All lights on, fully dark, swimmer strong

10:30 pm Getting close to Long Point State Park

11:00 pm Ibuprofin, continued warm feeds, swimmer happy

11:30 pm Warm coke, swimmer in good spirits

12:00 am Regular feed, passed Wells College

12:30 am Just a reminder – use correct tools for each job

Apparently this is a joke pertaining to crew members, not the swim itself.

1:00 am Pollen in major amounts on the water surface

1:30 am Solid food for next feed

2:00 am Swimmer strong and curious about distances

2:30 am PB&J – yum!

3:30 am A few stars out. Swimmer strong

4:00 am Entering channel towards end of lake

4:30 am Sky is becoming light

5:00 am Warm coke

5:30 am Sunrise beginning. Solid food requested

6:00 am Sun’s up. Warming up!

6:30 am Swimmer strong and happy. Major plant debris and pollen in water

7:00 am Through the buoys, last stretch to the bridge

7:30 am Water temp may be elevated due to position of probe on steel pontoon

8:00 am Bridge in sight. Breeze picking up

8:30 am Swimmer declines feeds - will finish up.

Swimmer Q&A

What inspired you to do this swim?

I did a long lake swim (Lake George) early in the season in 2016 as part of my preparation for a two-way North Channel attempt, so it seemed like a good idea to do something similar this year. I am living in Ithaca, NY while attending law school, so I had easy access to the longest of the Finger Lakes, Lake Cayuga.

Please describe how you planned for the swim.

Renting a boat on lake Cayuga was relatively easy. Since it was early in the season, we knew there wouldn’t be much boat traffic. There is really no push either way in the lake, so we left direction up to a game day decision based on the wind. Willie and I planned the route ahead of time. He piloted Dave Barra’s Cayuga swim a few years back, and was with me on Lake George last year as well. Kellie Latimer and my mother were kind enough to come to Ithaca to crew and observe. We had a large whiteboard on the boat to manage communication, and a tracker as well as a GPS logger running for documentation.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

The swim went off without a hitch, really. We decided that morning that we should go South to North. The boat was at the North end, so we drove up, loaded up the boat, and motored down the lake. This meant a later start time than anticipated, but saved time getting back to the marina at the end as well. For the start, we chose a point attached to land on the South end of the lake by Treman State Marine Park, and off we went. We had beautiful conditions and little traffic the whole way through. The south end of the lake was silty, and the water at the top of the lake was weedy and full of pollen, but the vast majority of the lake was deep and outstandingly clear. I cleared the water just to the left of a railroad trestle at the top of the lake. On my way there, I had to swim around a man fishing in a small boat who waved and asked me if I was training for an Ironman. When I told him I had swum up from Ithaca, he seemed rather unimpressed, and only asked again if I had done that as part of an Ironman training plan.


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Ithaca Times: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming