Elizabeth Almond - Lake George
South to North
51.8 km (32.2 miles)
17 hours, 7 minutes on 24-26 August 2021
Observed and documented by Janine Serell
- Name: Elizabeth Almond
- Gender: female
- Age on swim date: 48
- Nationality: United States
- Resides: Sandy Springs, Georgia
- Jeff Gravitt - paddler / support
- Samantha Miles - paddler / support / boat crew
- Robert Singer - boat pilot
|unnamed||Cobalt 28-ft||Lake George|
- Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
- Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
- Equipment used:
Lake George Village to Ticonderoga
- Body of Water:
- Route Type: one-way
- Start Location: Lake George Village, NY (43.421908, -73.711605)
- Finish Location: Diane’s Rock, Ticonderoga, NY (43.826275, -73.426174)
- Minimum Route Distance: 51.8 km (32.2 miles) (map)
LongSwimsDB: Lake George.
- Start: 24 August 2021, 16:19:00 (Eastern Daylight, America/New_York, UTC-4).
- Finish: 26 August 2021, 09:26:58
- Elapsed: 17 hours, 7 minutes, 58 seconds.
Summary of Conditions
|Water Temp (F)||74||78.4|
|Air Temp (F)||64||88|
Trackpoint frequency: 20 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).
by Elizabeth Almond
My journey to swim Lake George started in August of 2020. It is a long story, so bear with me. When I finished the English Channel in 2019, my gift to myself was swimming the North Channel. I realize how crazy that sounds. When I went to book the North Channel, I did not like the available dates. I decided to wait until 2021 to swim North Channel as I could be a number one slot at the end of August. That sent me searching for something to do in 2020. I knew I was doing Lake Tahoe as I had been wanting to swim it since I heard about it in 2017. Then the idea of a Lake Monster Triple Crown in one summer came to mind. I met a lady at the English Channel who put me in touch with the Loch Ness people. I could not book Loch Ness for 2020. I looked for ways to make me excited about 2020 and decided to just bite the bullet and go for a double Memphre since I couldn’t go after Nessie. Go for a one/two punch on Messie. Contacted Phil and paid him, at the ice swim March 1, 2020.
By end of March of 2020, it became obvious that 2020 had other plans. I continued to swim any way I could. I swam in freezing Lake Lanier before the sun came up for two months. I also started running a lot again. Luckily, living in GA, our pools reopened by mid-May of 2020. I continued to train. I thought restrictions would keep Lake Tahoe from commencing, but Lake Tahoe happened. On a different date, but it happened. However, the Canadian border opening became more and more grim as we got closer to September. I was ready. I knew the border was not going to open and had wanted to do a double Tahoe. However, my swim budget for 2020 was tied up in Memphre until it officially cancelled.
Knowing the border was not going to open, I started looking for alternatives that were not too far to pull a boat from Memphre. I started looking a Champlain. I started reading Sara Thomas’s race reports and stopped at Lamprey’s. Also, there was no way to not end that swim that did not involve New York with a quarantine or Canada with a border crossing. My friend, sensing my frustration, suggested Lake George. He has actually swum it and will not send the paperwork to have it ratified. Maybe this will persuade him. I reached out to Dr. Bob Singer, who usually organizes Lake George and he said he was done for the season and I would have to quarantine being from GA entering NY which I knew. So, I called Sylvia and Bryan back and said I want to come back for a double Tahoe. She said we already pulled the boats from Tahoe but, said I can find you something. It was something along the lines of it is a shorter swim, but it will feel like 50 miles. While she was searching, I broke my arm and my wrist. The swim year for 2020 was done.
I started running ultra-marathons during my swim hiatus. As 2021 started I was released to swim again. I think my body needed the break from swimming, by end of February 2021, I was back to baseline. However, with everything still in Limbo, I decided it might be a wise decision to move the North Channel swim scheduled for 2021. I took off a lot of weight running and just wasn’t worth putting it back on for the possibility of a swim that might not happen. Not to mention freezing to death all winter for no reason. So, I decided to stay on the ultra-running train and keep a good base for swimming. I keep a good base for running when swimming. Something I like to call “adventure ready.” Anyway, by the end of April, I remembered why I don’t run in the summer, it’s just too hot in Georgia during the summer. Started down the list of what I could do? It didn’t look like Memphre was going to happen again due to the Canadian border. I traded a two-way 2020 for some money back, and ice swim, and a one way for 2021. New York was no longer requiring a quarantine, so I decided to give Dr. Bob one last try.
I reached out to Dr. Bob and asked about scheduling Lake George in August of 2021. He said let’s do it. He explained to me that things had changed since last year meaning he didn’t have a boat. He told me to get training since we were on a short timeline and he would secure a boat and confirm by 10 June. It was right on the verge of ramping up too quickly, but I felt my base was strong enough to attempt. Dr. Bob confirmed the boat, and I was up to 40,000 meters per week by the end of June in addition to running 25-30 miles a week. I swam over 70,000 meters two weeks in July while still running. As swim volume increased, run volume decreased. I knew it was a fast ramp so I would push one week and pull back another. Surprisingly my splits were 6 to 7 seconds faster per hundred meters this year compared to 2020. I think two years of long-distance swim training paid off.
I continued my training and started communicating with Bob as the swim date got closer. Bob told me that me and my entire crew could stay at their house. Staying with complete strangers would seem strange to most people, but it was right up my alley. I love meeting and getting to know new people. The swim was becoming more and more about the experience than the actual swim. The more I got to know Bob, the more I could appreciate his love for the sport and people. This swim was not profitable for him in any way. It was only possible this year because of his likeability and trustworthiness within the community and his network of volunteers. He had sold his boat, Dave had sold his boat, and the rental club they joined doesn’t allow boats out after 5pm. Not many people would say here are the keys to my boat, go navigate the narrows at night but, Bob knew someone that did, Thank You Murray and Sally!
I had done a lot of research on the Lake. Most trips go North to South. I trusted Bob but wanted to better understand. I had started sending him messages like if we go today, we would go this direction? He would confirm. What I did learn is how quickly the weather and wind patterns change there. It is mostly a game time decision. North to South does make the finish a lot easier, but I really enjoyed the quiet finish and the rowdy start. It was so nice having complete strangers cheering for you at the start. Even got a honk and kisses from the tour boats. I started off breathing almost every stroke. I was very frightened by all the jet skis. We started at 16:20, so I knew I had to just get thru an hour and 40 minutes and all the rental jet skis and boats would be off the lake at 6. I didn’t feed for an hour and felt like I just was not moving. Apparently, the adrenaline from the jet skis, lit a fire under me and my stroke count started around 67 strokes per minute and I never slowed down. I didn’t feel it until around 6 hours when we had to start navigating the narrows at night. Unfortunately, there is no way around not doing the narrows at night. By that time my husband had come back to kayak. He knew I had blown it out a little too fast the first 6 hours. He knows how to handle me and knew he was going to have to stay with me the rest of swim to get me thru this.
Nutrition is my downfall. I have really worked on it the last few swims. Usually, I start refusing feeds, as I do with all endurance activities, around 8-9 hours. This time I made it to around 13 hours before I started to refuse and being force fed. That’s when I started getting a little regurgitation and switched over to mandaring oranges that my ultra-running friend has me hooked on. After the orange feed, I discovered carbo pro was dearly missed. Jeff stopped me a few minutes early to feed my carbo pro as my stroke rate dropped for the first time. I also got a treat halfway thru to the next feed which was a twinkie. When I stop feeding, I get cranky. Generally, I am very mild mannered, but when you throw in lack of sleep, fatigue, low blood sugar, and PMS (always seems to visit for my long swims), I start getting a little feisty. Usually, that is about two hours after I start refusing feeds. I didn’t really get cranky until around 15 hours on this swim. It was uncharted territory so we were curious as to where it would
appear. It never really came out on my Tahoe swim last year, but I think we have been able to successfully navigate the nutrition on a 12-hour event. I must have protein. We used PBJ sandwiches in Lake Tahoe. Soggy bread when you start refusing feeds is bad. This time I went with protein balls. Didn’t think I would have an opportunity to make my own, so I bought premade. 15 grams of protein every two hours was the plan. The first ones I picked up were high fiber, you don’t want fiber on a swim. The protein balls were very easy, not enjoyable, but did the trick. I will say my crew really had fun with the protein balls. We did have to keep it PG, so that my observer would continue to have a gig and this was going to be published. Going out too fast and my nutrition are my only issues. I think I am going to break down and get a nutritionist for future events.
I can hands down say this was my favorite swim. I am very much an extrovert and I gain energy from people. Our hosts Bob and Deb were also extroverts, my friend Sam, and of course Janine my observer are also extroverts. After spending so much time alone the last 18 months, it was as if life had been breathed back into me. These guys were so energizing. If I even started to think about stopping, I just remembered they were voluntarily out there for me. This trip really became more about the people than the swim. The people just happened to energize me to swim the best I ever have. Bob, Deb, Janine and Samantha, thank you for everything you did in helping with my Lake George Adventure.
Click to enlarge.