I swam 2 hours yesterday and 1 hr 40 minutes today. The altitude only bothers me when I sprint. The water temperature is gorgeous at 69 to 70. The sun on my back is wonderful too. An annoying chop comes up at around 11 a.m. That is why I will be starting at 9 p.m. to minimize my time in the afternoon chop.
Last night I went to Camp Richardson to see the start of another swim. I met my captain, Tom Linthicum, and saw the boat, the kayak and the starting spot. It is pitch black here. No glow of lights on the horizon, just surrounded by tall black mountains. Also, the air gets quite cool at night, which I am thinking will be the biggest challenge. I will have to sprint to stay warm and the altitude may put a cap on how fast I can swim.
I'm staying in a hotel right on the beach the first 5 nights until my crew arrives and then we move to a big rental house. I have a clear view of the first half of the course and I can picture where the finish is by the slope of the distant mountains. It is very reassuring that I can see the whole outline of the lake from my balcony. One of the mountains still has snow on it. So far, from my balcony, I've seen paragliding, water skiing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding.
Fun observations about Lake Tahoe: It never seems to rain here, even the boats don't cover up for the night. Overnight is usually calm and the wind blows from 11 am to 7 pm. The forecast is always the same. There are no bugs. Water boils sooner at a lower temperature and it takes longer to cook food at higher altitude.
On August 20 - 21, 2017, I swam the length of Lake Tahoe from Camp Richardson, California in the south to Hyatt Beach, Nevada in the north, a distance of 34 km. The major challenge was the 6200 ft (1897 m) altitude. The water was 20 deg. C. It is 500 m deep and only the top few meters warm up. The strong mountain winds can blow the warm water away (allowing the cold water to surface) and have been known to push swimmers backwards.The length of Lake Tahoe has been swum 43 times, including 2 double crossings. Nationalities include 37 Americans and one each from the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Serbia.
I am the oldest woman and the first Canadian to swim Lake Tahoe!
For those of you who don't know me, I swam Lake Ontario the easy way in 1983 and the hard way in 1984, becoming the first person to have swum it in both directions. I "came out of retirement" to swim the English Channel in 2011, winning the Van Audenaerde cup for the toughest endurance feat of the year. In 2013, I was the oldest Canadian to swim the Catalina Strait in California. After swimming around Manhattan Island in 2014 (oldest Canadian), I became the first Canadian to complete the coveted Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming (English Channel, Catalina and Manhattan). In 2015, I was the first person to swim between three provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. In March 2016, I fulfilled a 3 year long dream, to be the first Canadian (and oldest woman) to swim across the icy, treacherous Cook Strait between the South and North Islands of New Zealand. In August 2016, I swam across Cape Cod, becoming only the 9th person and the first Canadian to swim this historic Pilgrim route across the shark infested swirling tidal waters. (See links below for more detail.)
I am excited to be able to use this opportunity to raise money for Sashbear, an organization founded by Lynn Courey, whose daughter, Sasha, a swimmer who suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), died by suicide in 2011. Sashbear funds education programs for therapists, families and in schools. I have dedicated my psychiatric career to the treatment and research of BPD, which has a suicide rate of 10%. More treatment programs and support for families are desperately needed in Canada. Please support my swim and help reduce suicide and mental health stigma by donating to Sashbear http://sashbear.org/en/events-main/events-2/lake-tahoe-swim Thank you.