Ned Hastings - Priest Lake

Navigation Campground to Coolin Beach via Priest Lake Thoroughfare

38 km (23.6 miles)

14 hours, 24 minutes on 21 July 2019

Observed and documented by Michael Carter

First swim of Upper and Lower Priest Lake



  • Name: Ned Hastings
  • Gender: male
  • Age on swim date: 54
  • Nationality: United States
  • Resides: Kennewick, Washington

Support Personnel

  • Roger Banks - pilot
  • Damond Traeger - shadow boat
  • Melvin Kulp - crew, feeder

Escort Vessel: ski boat (Priest Lake)

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, with exception of KT tape on shoulder.
  • Equipment used: Swim suit, cap, goggles, earplugs, KT tape.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: Upper and Lower Priest Lake, Idaho
  • Route Type: one-way
  • Start Location: Navigation Campground, Upper Priest Lake (48.794255, -116.908086)
  • Finish Location: Coolin Beach, Lower Priest Lake (48.481225, -116.848933)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 38 km (23.6 miles)

Exit from Priest Lake Thoroughfare

Finish at Coolin Beach


No known previous swims of this route.

Swim Data

  • Start: 21 July 2019, 05:42 (America/Los_Angeles, UTC-7).
  • Finish: 21 July 2019, 20:06
  • Elapsed: 14 hours, 24 minutes.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (F) 62 72
Air Temp (F) 52 87
Wind (mph) calm 1-2

GPS Track

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

Speed Plot

Nutrition: Every 45 minutes - homemade Gu, mamma chia, potato salad, cookies.

Observer Log

Download PDF


by Ned Hastings

Last year, I planned on doing an ultramarathon swim of Upper and Lower Priest Lake, a distance of 23.8 miles. The swim would consist of 2.9 miles of Upper Priest Lake, 2.9 miles of the thorofare (A winding waterway that connects Upper and Lower Priest Lake) and 18 miles of Lower Priest Lake, the main body of water. My plan got canceled due to severe smoke storms. This year, I regrouped and was able to put together another support team. This time my support team would consist of 4 guys I have known since grade school: Roger Banks, Mike Carter, Damon Traeger and Mel Kulp. We would need to camp over night at Upper Priest Lake in order to get an early start.

It was hectic, but all my crew members were able to make it to Roger’s cabin just in the nick of time. We made it to Upper Priest Lake just as it was getting dark, and we established our camp. We couldn’t camp at Navigational Campground (the established start) because it was occupied. We camped at the most northern part of Upper Priest Lake. It was fine for camping, but awkward for Roger’s ski boat. None of us had a good sleep except for Damon. He was the one who got us going at the crack of dawn. Damon and his little fishing boat transferred me to Roger’s boat where all my swim gear was located. I got ready on the boat, as Roger transferred me to Navigational Campground, the “start!” I quickly downed some chia seeds, and potato salad, and just like that it was time to go. We were already 42 minutes late! I was “Geeked-Up!” there was nothing that was going to stop me now! I dove in the water off the bow of the boat, and swam to shore. I waited for my team to start the clock, and I was off at 5:42 am! The water was 64f and the air was 55f. The water felt good, I wasn’t cold.

When I would dream about the swim, I expected a spectacular sunrise and still water. In reality, I had a slight tailwind with a small chop in the water, and the mountains around prevented that incredible sunrise I was expecting. It was kind of plain out, so I was just going through the motions. Also, when I would dream about the swim, the thorofare was going to be the highlight of the swim. In reality, I wasn’t feeling it. The thorofare slowly got colder and darker, the water was 62f. However, I still felt fine and wasn’t cold. Right in the middle of the thorofare, a creek emptied into it. I was feeling it now! It got DAMN COLD! I don’t have an official reading of the water temperature there, but I know it was well into the mid to lower 50s f. The thorofare turned into the “Dark Forest” and I wanted out of there! For the next 1.4 miles of cold water, I toughed it out. As I exited the thorofare, I received a warm welcome of people cheering for me and the water warmed to 68f.

I was now in the main portion of the swim - Lower Priest Lake, the water was warm, and I was content just stroking away. I was right on pace! I exited the thorofare at 8:49. I was basically cruising at 2 mph. Somewhere around the next two feedings (I fed every 45 min), I started to feel fatigued. I didn’t expect fatigue to set in so early. I still had I LONG way to go. That didn’t help my psyche any. Once I hit 6 hours, my optimism was waning. I knew I wasn’t at the half way mark yet, and the “wheels were coming off.” At 12:30 pm close to 7 hours of swimming, I confessed to the team “My arms are shredded and I am humbled!” I was half way, but that didn’t encourage me. It intimidated me. “‘I am pounded!’ and the distance I have gone while fresh - I now have to go while pummeled, ‘Holy Sh*t!’”

Mel, one of my crewmembers out of compassion told me, “Ned, you don’t have to finish this. I don’t want to see you all disorientated.” From that point on for about 3 hours, I comforted myself by saying, “I can quit anytime!” It was kind of comforting to say it in my mind, but I knew it wasn’t good. I tried thinking about puppies and butterflies, but that didn’t work. I got to a point briefly, where I didn’t care what my team or family thought of me. The thought of quitting was real for a split second, but I kept on swimming. All of a sudden, I started getting visions of myself finishing. Now it was going back and forth in my mind. I would think about finishing, then I would think about quitting. Finally, I remembered the special souvenir I found on the beach right before the swim. If I quit, that souvenir would be meaningless. At that point on, I didn’t think about quitting anymore. However, I did think to myself, “If they try to pull me out I’m not going to resist very hard.”

I had gotten through the hardest part of the swim. I now had an encouraging landmark in sight! Four Mile Island! I am brilliant! I figured out why they call it Four Mile Island, because it is four miles away from the end the lake. Four miles is a long way. Especially, when you are analyzing how miserable you are. My throat hurt - from breathing, my shoulders and arms where shredded, my calves where threatening to cramp, and now I was cold! I was cold in 70f - 71f water? I didn’t want to swim four more miles, I wanted to swim for only 3 miles. In my GIS plotting, I think I saw it as 3.7 miles to the finish from Four Mile Island. I’m rounding down, not up. In my mind, I only have 3 more miles to go!

Making it to Four Mile Island was a milestone! Coolin was now in sight! I stopped for a second to take it in. Roger gave me a proud comforting look that told me, your almost home! I said to Roger, “Only 3 more miles right?” Roger doesn’t candy coat it, “No, buddy, 4 more miles!” I yelled, out of frustration “F_ _ K!!!” The crew got a chuckle out of that. I wanted to argue with him, but what is the use. It is called “Four Mile Island!” not “Three Mile Island!” I took off swimming trying to figure out how I am going to swim four more miles instead of three. “I still have more than a couple hours to go, Son of a Bitch!” At the next feeding break, I ate a cookie and told my crew, “No more feeding breaks!” It was now very painful to stop, it was better to keep my body moving. Besides I was almost home!

As we got closer to Coolin, I started asking for landmarks, and the crew was getting excited. I wasn’t really getting excited. I was just numb, and I had to keep on trudging forward. Finally we made it to the Coolin Swim Beach area, the boat peeled away and my crew directed me home. I was still in “trudging” mode. But then, when I heard the crowd, and could see the sandy bottom, I put a little more effort into my stroke! As the bottom of the lake crept up, I kept on swimming. I didn’t want to get disqualified for standing up too early. (That is what was going through my mind.) So I swam all the way up to the water line, then I got my feet underneath me. I stood up, and I consciously made sure I stepped totally clear of the water line. I did it! I was done! I thought about my team, so I turned toward them and lifted my arms in relief. Then I fell to the ground so I could just let go of any kind of effort. Frank, a good friend, came up to me to with a smile to ensure I was ok. I smiled back.


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