SCAR Swim 2017

KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member
edited September 2016 in Event Announcements

APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR SCAR 2017 ON NOVEMBER 1, 2017. Four days, four lakes and roughly forty miles of open water swimming with an ambitious group of international channel swimmers. Swim dates:

April 25, 2017 - Tuesday - Swim Dinner / Introductions

April 26, 2017 - Wednesday - Saguaro Lake

April 27, 2017 - Thursday - Canyon Lake

April 28, 2017 - Friday - Apache Lake

April 29, 2017 - Saturday - Roosevelt Lake


2016 VIDEO



  • ttriventtriven Senior Member

    I've always wanted to do this swim, but I have no idea how to go about finding someone who wants to take a week off work to kayak for me. It is really outside my comfort zone to even ask. Has anyone done a tag team where one person kayaks and the other swims, so you each get 2 days of swimming? It sounds very hard. Harder than swimming the whole thing, because of the long hours sitting in the kayak. I am open to any ideas people might have for accomplishing this swim.

  • JustSwimJustSwim Senior Member

    In 2015 the Dods, Suzie and Walter, swam kayaked as a team. They switched off during each swim. Every day we waited with baited breathe for stories of their daily adventures. Suzie is a regular posted so she can certainly add to this discussion.

  • HA!! The first two lakes were a piece of cake . We just pulled to the side and swapped out. No big deal. My brother and I basically switched every hour or so, when we felt like it.
    A- ugh.. oh ugh. Frikin wind. We ended up swimming from the start to the "hotel" and calling it a day. Hardest kayaking I;ve ever done, the swimming was a dream compared to the kayaking.
    R- I mentally bailed. And..because I had not practiced enough getting back INTO the kayak..we would have had a hell of a time doing a swap in the middle of a lake.
    Feel free to ping me at suziedods@hotmail or talk to my brother for more info. It's a heck of a week.
    In a good way... Make your Apache reservations NOW.

  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member

    @ttriven - there are a surprising number of volunteer kayakers/crew who are very dedicated to open water swimming (Neil Van der Byl and Don Houghton). Finding a good crew is fundamental for open water swimmers. Start by recruiting a swimmer to paddle - they may not want to swim it but still be part of the action.

    After a recent swim down the Tennessee River Gorge (Swim the Suck), I traded emails with Phil (race director from Kingdom Swim) and Karah (race director from Suck). Phil has a great idea about identifying crew who enjoy supporting swimmers. The informal plan is to encourage crew to take it on the road and experience other venues as well. Phil has sent a number of very qualified volunteer kayakers to SCAR. I'm in the process of developing a database to encourage SCAR crew to travel to other venues as well. How cool would be be to crew 20 Bridges or Boston Light or Swim Across the Sound? I'd consider it a privilege.

    At SCAR, the recruitment of crew is up to the swimmer. We try to help those in need who are traveling from out of the country with a volunteer crew but resources are limited. If a swimmer cannot get 1 paddler how am I suppose to get 50? It's a challenge. There are questions about crew compensation, travel expenses, etc . . . discussions that are best between the swimmer and paddler from my perspective. As the sport evolves and "large group" marathon swims become more popular, it is only with the help of swimmers recruiting paddlers that group marathon swims thrive.

    Chattanooga has a very strong paddling community and Karah has no problem recruiting paddlers for Suck. Everywhere you look there is a paddler and it's beautiful. It could be the very cool handmade SUCK mugs she gives to only the paddlers that keeps them coming back.

    The Kingdom is stocked with great volunteers and, with Phil's vision, by adding a pig roast with local beers will only make the Kingdom more fun for crew. Assisting the formation of bonds between swimmers and crew is something that probably all race directors would encourage. But we cannot do it alone.

    I discourage the relay option (although I very much enjoyed having Walter and Suzie in Arizona - great people). Spend your energy on recruiting 1 person who will go the distance with you. Someone you work well with and knows your preferences. Recruiting a good paddler may take as much effort as training for the swim - and that's a lot of effort - but the rewards and experience you share will be memorable.

  • I live in the UK, did SCAR in 2015 and my primary concern was having a great kayaker (Pete Fellows flew out with me) as the wind can pick up and I didn't want it round a stranger's neck if someone paddling were to let me down after 15 miles for example on Apache. It was the right decision and one i would make everytime. Good crew is essential to marathon swimming (you usually need 2 to 4 when swimming a channel) so it's good to recruit crew plus you get to 'share' the experience with someone which is magical. Try anything you can but usually being around loads of events gets you acquainted with the passionate crews imho. There are plenty of kayakers out there who would love the scenery of Arizona in April - just need to swim more and more to track them down.

  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member
    edited November 2016

    SCAR 2017 applications filling quickly in the opening hours.
    -- Australia
    -- Switzerland
    -- South Africa
    -- India
    -- United Kingdom
    --New York
    -- Virginia
    -- San Francisco
    -- Florida
    -- Vermont
    -- Indiana
    -- Massachusetts
    -- Arizona
    -- Kansas
    -- Colorado

    2016 SCAR Swim photo

  • lotechnotechlotechnotech Ojai, ca Member

    Is the SCAR swim filled for this year?

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    lotechnotech said:
    Is the SCAR swim filled for this year?

    Almost certainly would be. But apply anyway! Spots tend to open up as deadlines approach--financial or otherwise ;)

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    The website entry pages says there are four more spots open.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member

    There are a handful of spots left for SCAR 2017 for those that want to swim all 4 lakes.

  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member

    The field of SCAR 2017 swimmers is near capacity and diverse. Swimmers coming from 18 different states and seven different countries. Still looking to fill volunteer crew positions (these spots can be limited as well). See, SCARSWIM.COM.

    Ali Hall San Francisco, CA
    Susie Paul Phoenix, AZ
    Samantha Allen Belton, TX
    Ingrid Bon Boca Raton, FL
    Tom Linthicum Fair Play, CA
    Mark Spratt Indianapolis, IN
    Abigail Fairman New York, NY
    Liz Uribe Tucson, AZ
    Chris Greene Suwanee, GA
    Mitchel Schoenfeld Seattle
    Larry Long Prairie Village, KS
    Anna Doubell Sydney
    Mark Sheridan Sevenoaks, UK
    Stephen Rouch Royal Center, IN
    Joseph Zemaitis SCOTTSDALE, AZ
    Cathy Harrington Danville, CA
    Kurt Adkins Mesa, AZ
    Wendy Van De Sompele Vashon, WA
    Sue Croft London, UK
    Audrey Viers Mission Viejo, CA
    Luise Rasche Zurich, Switzerland
    Meenakshi Pahuja India
    Emily Evans Flagstaff, AZ
    Michael Pollanen Toronto
    Natalie Pummill Brooklyn, NY
    Kate Howell San Francisco, CA
    John Batchelder Littleton, CO
    Shannon Cleary Stafford, Va
    Peter Hayden Laguna Hills, CA
    Tiffany McQueen Helendale, CA
    Stefan Reinke Honolulu, HI
    Mia Van Biljon Johannesburg, South Africa
    Amy Gubser Pacifica, CA
    Paula Yankauskas Hyde Park, VT
    Laura Colette Gloucester, MA
    Steven Minaglia Honolulu, HI
    Daniela Klaz Jamaica Plain, MA
    Neil Leyland St Louis, MO
    Sandra Frimerman-Bergquist Excelsior, MN
    Gerald George Phoenix, AZ
    Mike Herrmann Chandler, AZ
    Mo Siegel Piermont, NY
    Jeffrey Breen Ashburn, VA
    Rebecca Nevitt Los Angeles, CA
    Patrick McDermot SALEM, NH
    Bill Daniell Mesa, AZ
    Cassandra Oliver Prescott, AZ
    Elizabeth Almond Norcross, GA
    Eliza Cummings Denver, CO
    Cindy Werhane Portland, OR
    Matthew Schubert Huntington Beach, CA
    Samantha Kramer Phoenix, AZ
    Amy Taylor Tucson, AZ
    Bradley Lundblad Gilbert, AZ
    Erin O'Leary Jacksonville, FL

  • KagemushaKagemusha Honolulu Member

    What a fun looking group of swimmers.

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    Indeed. Quite sad to miss out on the party :((


    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member

    @spacemanspiff you'll be missed my friend but your SCAR blogs will continue to be part of SCAR lore - how ever long that lasts.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Anybody excited yet? =D>


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • MpolMpol Toronto, Ontario, CanadaMember

    7 days to Lake Saguaro! A highly anticipated event after several months of training! But, tapering is difficult to manage - I feel ready to go now!

  • JustSwimJustSwim Senior Member

    If you can come to the practice swim on Tuesday at 11 AM at Saguaro. We swim for maybe 30 minutes. It is a good way to meet the swimmers and get a handle on the first day logistics. Be sure to pick up your Tonto parking passes.

    See you next week!

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    wendyv34 said:
    Anybody excited yet? =D>

    I am! And I'm not even doing it (which I deeply regret). I've glad to see some chatter. This is such a great time! Please post daily updates and pictures!!


    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    I'm looking forward to some hot, sunny weather and warmer water! It's been pouring in the Seattle area forever, the forecast for next week is 55 and more rain. I'm about to do a happy dance over avoiding that!


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • suziedodssuziedods Mem​ber

    I'm so excited to see everyone.. my sister is coming as well and I just found out I get to check everyone in and out. Plus it looks like it's gonna be STONKIN hot. CAN'T WAIT.@spacemanspiff ? Sorry to miss you. I love your writing.

  • JustSwimJustSwim Senior Member

    Sweet! You and Laura should come up and swim with us on Tuesday Suzie. It is an unexpected pleasure to know both of you will be there.

  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member

    Saguaro Results:

    Relatively warm water at 69F and low to no wind. 39 finishers out of a field of 40. Perfect conditions. Leading the SCAR Series 2017 is 33 year old Sandra Frimerman-Bergquist (3:04) followed by last year's winner Stephan Roach (3:10). Fantastic showing by Australian Anna Doubell (3:39). Youngster Emily Evans leading the 40-49 age bracket (3:24). Rebecca Nevitt has a narrow lead over Lise Gentile in the female 50-59 bracket (3:51 and 3:52). Long time SCAR hero and vetran, representing the great state of New York, Mo Siegel turns in a very respectable 5:14. Representing India for the first time in SCAR history was Meenakshi Pahuja with a 5:30. Bringing the heard home was Lake Tahoe boat pilot and South End Rowing Club favorite, Tom "Reptile Brain" Linthicum (5:42) and social media mogul Ingrid Bon from Florida (5:50)

  • suziedodssuziedods Mem​ber

    I really shouldn't give away secrets but it was hella fun just being on the boat. Thanks for a lovely dinner Tues, great camaraderie yet again and awesome food. "S" was the antidote to a long wet winter here. "C" was a miracle of logistics worked to perfection. Thank for taking an idea and making it into the event that it is. It speaks VOLUMES that you have people coming from INDIA (!!) to do this swim( and SA and Oz as well).
    I can't figure out how to get my little video on here so you'll have to email me or look on my personal fb page.
    Sun, Swim,FriendS, faSt BoatS and Soo much fun.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited April 2017

    Median finish times over the years:

    stage lake year time DNF
    1 Saguaro 2013 03:33:08 0
    1 Saguaro 2014 04:08:54 1
    1 Saguaro 2015 03:58:43 3
    1 Saguaro 2016 04:14:47 0
    2 Canyon 2013 03:09:09 0
    2 Canyon 2014 04:18:24 3
    2 Canyon 2015 03:57:01 0
    2 Canyon 2016 04:29:39 2
    3 Apache 2013 05:55:41 5
    3 Apache 2014 07:57:42 5
    3 Apache 2015 08:49:37 9
    3 Apache 2016 08:48:28 22
    4 Roosevelt 2013 03:02:00 1
    4 Roosevelt 2014 03:45:13 0
    4 Roosevelt 2015 03:27:53 1
    4 Roosevelt 2016 03:28:24 5
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member

    Just curious @evmo , is the median Apache time inclusive of all starters or just finishers? If the latter then it would be skewed to the faster swimmers since there seems to be a significant DNF rate on Apache as I understand it.

    evmo - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited April 2017

    dc_in_sf said:
    Just curious @evmo , is the median Apache time inclusive of all starters or just finishers? If the latter then it would be skewed to the faster swimmers since there seems to be a significant DNF rate on Apache as I understand it.

    The median times shown above are finishers-only. I agree that the median is less representative for swims with a high DNF rate (such as Apache). But the DNF swimmers aren't always slower swimmers than the finishers - sometimes they are faster swimmers who got cold. So, I made the judgment call to exclude them from the median series rather than treating them as "slower" than all the finishers.

    I added a DNF column above to provide a bit more detail.

    Also, wetsuit swims are excluded.

  • suziedodssuziedods Mem​ber

    There's a dude who swam w a wetsuit at "C"... I couldn't imagine doing "A" in a wetsuit..

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    dc_in_sf said:
    Just curious @evmo , is the median Apache time inclusive of all starters or just finishers? If the latter then it would be skewed to the faster swimmers since there seems to be a significant DNF rate on Apache as I understand it.

    Doesn't seem like DNF's skewed the results as much as you would think. I noticed one constant between 2015 and 2016: even with a huge difference in the DNF rate on Apache from one year to the next, some guy from Texas finished both years, with a nearly identical time:

    SCAR comp

    I never met him, but I hear his only real talent is a fragile ego and no sense to come out of the rain.

    @evmo's observation was true on Apache lake, 2016. There was no obvious correlation between talent and completion. Many stronger, faster swimmers DNF'ed that day.


    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member

    just for the heck of it I took a look at the SCAR 2016 results. I'm assuming that @evmo is picking the median time for Apache as the split between the 5 & 6th swimmers since there were 10 finishers.

    Swimmer #5 averaged out at #21 in the other 3 races and swimmer #6 was ~#23, so if anything the median was pushed further back by the DNFs, rather than forward.

    I love how in this sport it's not always about the super fast swimmers, sometimes it's just about getting it done :-)

    evmoTracy_ClarkDanSimonelli - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • I'm hearing errant reports that Apache (2017) was called due to high winds, can anyone confirm?

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    Five finishers

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member
    edited April 2017

    As a swimmer, and claiming to be nothing more, I want to finish every swim I attempt. SCAR is very difficult swim, with Mother Nature's deck of cards dealing a different hand at every lake. Apache Lake was at it's toughest in 2017. Hands down - the toughest. Not in terms of water temp but definitely in terms of wind.

    Apache History:
    In 2012 - we didn't track times but 2 finished and 6 did not.
    In 2013 - Mo Siegel, age 61, finished in 7 hours 36 minutes.
    In 2014 - Apache had 15 finishers (non-wetsuit) out of 22. Mo turns in an 11 hour 1 minute finishing time (3 hours off his previous year and he was in better shape). (68% finisher rate).
    In 2015 - 28 finishers out of 38 swimmers (73% finisher rate).
    In 2016 - 10 finishers out of 31 swimmers (32% finisher rate).
    In 2017 - 4 finishers out of 40 swimmers (10% finisher rate with the two time SCAR champion, Stephen Rouch (age 36) swimming it only 5 minutes faster than Mo Siegel's 2013 time (Mo was 61 years old).

    2018 Anticipated Apache Lake Change: The Apache breakfast is too unpredictable in it's timing to rely on it for our biggest swim. It's unnerving for the crew, the swimmers and myself. We are eliminating the Apache breakfast in order to increase the odds in favor of the swimmer. Let Mother Nature come at us - we're ready.

    --Kent Nicholas

    Roosevelt 2017 closer

  • swimrn62swimrn62 Stowe, VTSenior Member

    Several more swimmers would have finished had their paddlers been able to paddle against the very strong headwinds. The swimmers looked amazing in the water.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    I had a blast and can't wait to get back there to finish all four lakes. Kent and his posse of volunteers were stellar. I enjoyed Canyon the most, (I was told that I just missed the snake at the finish), but swimming at night on Roosevelt was surreal and I didn't want it to end. It was a privilege to meet and swim with so many bada** swimmers. Everyone was so friendly and supportive, the water was warm and the scenery was stunning.

    If SCAR is on your bucket list...then yes! Do it!

    Be sure to train in the wind, you will thank yourself for that at SCAR.


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    That sounds like an amazing series of swims. It also sounds like Apache is brutal. I'm kind of curious how the decision to bail out is made. I would imagine the mindset of most long distance swimmers is built around endurance. This would mean that no matter how hard it is, you just keep going. So can any of the swimmers who bailed on Apache explain what was going through their mind and where did they feel they had crossed the line and had to call it off. Did you make the decision, or was the decision made for you? In hindsight, could you have continued if you just persevered? Are you having any second doubts about the decision? Did the fact that you had another swim the next day weigh into the overall decision? I would love to know more about what happens when you hit the insurmountable wall.

  • brunobruno Barcelona (Spain)Senior Member

    I'm kind of curious how the decision to bail out is made

    So am I!

    So far I've only done one +15km swim, and I was pulled out after 6 hours because the guys in my group were faster than me. I'm doing the same swim next June (it's 30K), so I ask myself some of the questions @curly is asking; mainly: at which point do you decide you are tired enough, or cold enough, to quit? Is it mental strength that makes you go on, or do you reach a point in which, no matter how hard you want it, your body says "no"?

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member
    edited May 2017

    @curly, This is a great question and I'd love to hear some responses. Truthfully, I have been very curious about this myself. I finished in 2015 (30% DNF) and in 2016 (70% DNF). The list of Apache DNF's each year includes many seriously badass swimmers, capable of great feats of strength, endurance and courage, which makes it all the more curious. I have a few theories, but to understand them, you have to first understand some things about this stage that are not apparent until you've experienced them from a swimmer's perspective. Apache has three distinct sections:

    Start to Mile 3: a gentle cruise through a beautiful, steep, protected canyon, similar to the first two stages. The water is calm and smooth, lulling the swimmer into a false sense of invincibility. Along the way, you pass curious campers with puzzled faces behind hot coffee mugs and frying bacon, creating a hard-to-describe feeling of "epicness" about the day ahead.

    Mile 3 - Mile 9: at mile three, the canyon yields to an open lake. You can both see the wind and hear it as you approach the left turn. When you read official reports of "15 mph" or "20 mph" winds, it is misleading. The salt river cuts through a mountain range that acts as a wind-tunnel. I'd guess you'd need to double the reported wind speed to comprehend what it is actually like on the surface of the lake. Its so bad that if you can't talk to your kayaker (if he stops paddling for just a second, you're immediately separated). There were times when I looked up at the steep bank during a feed and noticed the same damn landmark I'd seen during my feed 30 minutes earlier!

    Mile 9: This mile deserves its own paragraph. First, if you look at the map, you can see that at mile 9, the resort that is home the night before and after Apache is on the south bank. The significance of this cannot be overstated. On most epic, solo swims, quitting means a shivering hour-long boat ride in a wet bathing suit (with lots of explaining), followed by an hour of unloading gear and another hour of driving/etc before the suffering really ends. These obstacles to relief don't exist on Apache, at least not at mile 9. You adjust your heading 15 degrees to the left and climb out onto the beach. Two minutes later, you're snuggled up warm and dry in the biscuit ordering room service! Meanwhile, on the north bank, just past the hotel, there is a rocky outcropping. It's hard to make out from Google Maps, but it really is a "corner." It creates a weird sense of hope. The wind has been seemingly coming out of SSW all morning. The bank beyond that corner creates the illusion that once you turn it, you'll be heading more NW and "surely out of the wind..." Both years I've approached that corner with such hope. And both years I've peeked around that corner only to be slapped hard across the face (quite literally) by white caps driven by WORSE WIND, not better. IMHO, these two elements combine to form a perfect DNF storm. Both years I've noticed a profound reduction in the density of swimmers around me after the mile 9 "corner". It is a herd-thinner, for sure.

    Mile 10-Finish: For most mortals, this puts you into the mid-afternoon. The mountains are high and shadows long. Without the sun beating down on your back, it starts to get VERY cold. Nearly everyone is experiencing some level of hypothermia. I don't have much to say about this section, mostly because I don't have many clear memories of it. The finish line isn't visible until you're nearly right on top of it. Hope is hard to find.

    So now my theories:

    (1) Its f-in' hard, brah! According to @KNicholas, 2017 was "hands down" the hardest year. I can't even imagine what worse-than-2015/2016 would even be like. F-ing hard. If you put me in conditions that were "hands down" harder than 2015/2016, no amount of willpower would change the outcome. DNF for sure. If exhaustion didn't win, hypothermia or time (darkness) would.

    (2) The "resort effect" (see above). I don't know if the stats would bear this out, but I'd wager that in the windy years, a quarter to a third of the DNF's occur within a few hundred meters of mile 9.

    (3) The "escort effect". On the windy years (is there another kind?) it may be more difficult to kayak Apache than to swim it. Plus, unlike a solo marathon swim, there is no motorized "base-camp" boat providing constant moral support and back-up to the yakker. The yakker is emotionally "alone," just like the swimmer. Once exhaustion/hypothermia begins to overpower the escort, they don't have many positive vibes to spare, and might even be inadvertently sending negative ones. When the swimmer is at or near the breaking point, looks up and sees obvious despair on the face of her escort, hopelessness sets in. Even if your kayaker remains strong, the chaos of the wind/waves leads to communication breakdowns, confusion and frustration. I traded screaming F-bombs with my loyal, kickass kayaker more than once. And many kayakers drop out. Some swimmers don't feel it is safe to swim alone in such conditions and drop out on this basis. Even those who venture on, the loneliness must be challenging.

    (4) The "legend effect". As the Apache legend grows, so does perceived difficulty. The harder it seems, the harder it becomes, the harder it becomes, the harder it seems, and so on... If everybody always finished, the finish line would seem so much more attainable, not to mention the peer pressure to finish. But when the DNF rate approaches 50%, it seems harder. To be clear: I'm not suggesting it isn't hard. It is. But when you take something that is already that hard and add the legend/perception on top, its becomes even harder. It "validates" the feeling of difficulty, or compounds it. Plus, the high DNF rate likely gives people "permission" to DNF. "Hell, most people do! Why not me?" I am nearly certain that I would have quit in 2016 if I knew what the ultimate DNF rate was going to be.

    (5) The "race effect". This is not like a solo crossing of the EC. There is a starting line, a finish line, a stopwatch and other swimmers. SCAR attracts a diverse group, including elite speed merchants with high performance expectations (both internal and relative to others). Apache has a way of interfering with one's expectations. From my personal observations, I suspect there are a handful of SCAR swimmers each year who feel that finishing below the expected standard is the same (or worse) than not finishing at all. Fortunately, I've always lacked the talent to be in that camp.

    These are all just theories. Actual accounts would be more reliable...


    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member

    Right on Stephen @Spacemanspiff
    Great synopsis!
    I completely agree.
    =D> \m/

  • JustSwimJustSwim Senior Member

    Here are a couple of my observations.

    In years past the low grad chop stars around mile 2.5 to 3 miles. This year the chop started deeper in the canyon, around 2 miles. It was rougher earlier, faster and higher than the past 2 years. Once the chop started in earnest I actually sped up. I'm sick that way.

    At mile 4 I lost slight of my kayaker. I turned around to find her. She was in the water a 100 yards back and all our crap was floating away. Thankfully Lilli was surrounded by other kayakers that picked up our gear and helped her back into the kayak. I got told to swim ahead so I headed for Patty Hermann who was kayaking for a girl from Sydney who is of similar speed. I got to Patty and found that her that her swimmer Anna was 200 meters ahead. Patty was getting blown backwards once I joined her. Matter of fact the whole flotilla of kayakers were going backwards. If I had to guess I would say the winds were gusting in the 20-25 mph range. I counted at least 8 swimmers at that point swimming on their own or in pairs.

    I dealt with the winds in 2015 and did a really dumb thing when my kayaker got pulled. I swam on without support. I got lucky and ended up with a stray kayaker who took me to the end. I went the last 3 hours of the race without feeds. I got my "A" in 2015 and I chose to pay it safe this year. I wanted my wet kayaker off of the water and pulled us. I am good with the DNF.

    I was in one of the boats for about an hour that was monitoring the unescorted swimmers. They were handing out everything they had to help feed the swimmers. I have never seen a race from a boat like this so it was kind of fun for me. Everyone I saw in the water looked amazing and were slamming it through the chop.

    Other boats were working hard collecting kayakers and bringing them forward to meet up with their swimmers. Some kayakers got moved forward as many as 3 times before finally getting pulled.

    I was able to get a good look at the wind and waves action around Stephen's Soul Crushing Corner. Or what I call the Rock Face of Death. The whitecaps were fast and furious like I have never seen them before. I have heard the winds were in the 25-40 mph, in particular the gusts.

    The swimmers I spoke to who did make it to this point for the most part could have made it to the end if they had enough light and reliable support. I suspect the kayakers were at the greatest danger in the latest part of the course. Most of the wave 3 swimmers I know got pulled after their kayakers got pulled first.

    I am only aware of two cases of hyperthermia this year. Fortunately their "asses planted on a rock" times weren't too bad compared to previous years.

    Hopefully one of the other swimmers will post the observations from the Soul Sucking Corner on.

    BTW Stephen @Spacemanspiff I love the unofficial SCAR map you created. It got a lot of use in our planning.

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    JustSwim said:

    BTW Stephen @Spacemanspiff I love the unofficial SCAR map you created. It got a lot of use in our planning.

    The aforementioned "unofficial" SCAR map (updated)


    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    I decided to bail on Apache shortly after getting out of bed that morning. My left shoulder was pretty sore from the previous day. I believe it was due to sculling more to stabilize myself in the wind for a couple of hours and having to breath only downwind for a period of time on Canyon. I looked out the window and the wind was already roaring. We went to breakfast, then I reported in that I was scratching for the day. I went back to bed after that. I don't regret that decision, as it still hurts a bit today. I didn't want to miss the night swim on Roosevelt, either.

    Later, we went back to the restaurant and waited to see swimmers coming down the lake. There was a bit of a lull in the wind as the first 5 passed by and around the soul sucking corner, then it really picked up. The whitecaps were huge. We lost count a bit, but it seemed like 10-12 swimmers went by, then we started seeing unescorted swimmers and kayaks being shuttled forward. We saw kayakers being blown backwards during feeds. Several swimmers came toward the shore, so we went to the boat ramp and assisted with getting kayaks back to the truck, making sure everyone was ok and got their clothes, etc. One kayaker said they had to quit because of him, but the swimmer said she was ready to quit then too. We bumped into another kayaker at the boat launch whose kayak partially sank because it had a hole somewhere and filled with water. At no time did we say "Looks like fun, I wish we were out there". As it got later, the gusts were just outrageous and swimmers were getting pulled because they had lost their kayakers or were not going to finish before dark.

    I think it was rougher on the kayakers than the swimmers, in most cases. My trusty kayaker, Pete, would've given it 100% for me, but I was fairly certain we would DNF under those conditions, so he was also quite OK with the DNS. Somehow, Pete ended up with that leaky kayak on Roosevelt and was getting swamped by the time he got it back to the boat ramp.

    My hat is off to everyone who went out on Apache that day. Everyone swam or paddled their hearts out, whether or not they finished. I saw people who had given it all they had, some made 13, 14, even 15 miles. Some were in good spirits, others were clearly disappointed. I felt honored to swim with such a tough group of swimmers. The next morning was lovely, with a light breeze in the opposite direction.

    While I'm ok with not swimming Apache this year, I have some unfinished business at SCAR. I'll be back.


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • ttriventtriven Senior Member

    So I suspect there are 30 plus different stories as to what happened at Apache, and I can't pretend to know them all, but I can tell you my short answer is I was pulled with about 5 swimmers in the same area. And I believe there were many more in our same situation. None of us 5 had kayakers with us. Kent had told us it was ok to swim without our kayaker for a while, that he would bump the kayaks up by boat if possible, but when you have many swimmers without kayaks, you can't bump all of them or monitor all of them, and it was time to pull us. Most kayaks simply were not making it through the strong gusts that were coming along toward the end.

    I think my kayaker was one of the people who went to help Lilli fairly early on. My kayaker had fed me early, because she could see the wind was about to open up, and sure enough, when it did, that's when someone went overboard. She and I had discussed getting separated, and she knew I would be ok with it, so she said she was going to go help. I swam on my own about an hour at that point, completely happy and at peace and watching the shadows of the clouds on the hills. A boat came by and threw me one of my bottles, so I figured the boat would also go bump my kayaker soon. They also said they were watching me, so I was ok. I did see them pulling another kayaker up the lake.

    Just when I started to wonder where she was, she came paddling up from behind! And this is in an area where kayakers were falling back in general. She did not get bumped up, she caught up. Very impressive. She had not heard from the boat in a long time and had decided to come find me. It took her a little searching, and she was tired when she got there, but we were really happy to be reunited.

    I know she was tired because when we got to the resort, she started to follow another kayak, who was turning in to stop. Once she realized that was not where we were supposed to go, we needed to cross back over the windy middle back to the North side and around that corner. At this point I felt ok and was fine to keep going, cross over, whatever we needed to do. We continued on like this, even though the wind was really strong. Stronger than a windy day on the Hudson for sure. She had said she could handle 30mph, and when I looked over, she was keeping her body low, and the bow was going up, and slamming down, and she was charging as hard as she could. So, I did the math. Some of these gusts were 30mph or more. Still we continued on.

    When we reached 13-14 miles, the wind picked up again, we were at one of the points where the lake narrows, and the wind speeds up even faster. Suddenly a gust came along and it was like she was shot out of a cannon, and she disappeared behind me, very quickly. I was on my own. I swam for a while, maybe 30 minutes, until I saw a kayak approach me from up the course, and I knew what he was coming to say. Time to get out. I was disappointed but I really had no expectations of being allowed to continue.

    The crew of one boat pulled about 5 of us as quickly as they could, we had a few things on the boat to keep us just warm enough, stuff the crew had hobbled together and handed to us off their backs. Once we got to shore my kayaker and I spent some time getting people to a warm place, some people had no dry bag and no hotel room, so we took them to our room.

    I think 4 swimmers finished that day, but only 2 kayaks if I understand correctly. One kayak brought in 2 swimmers, 1 kayak brought in one swimmer, and the lead male was escorted in by boat, he had no kayaker, although the lead female who had no kayaker was pulled. One swimmer decided to paddle a kayak and help another swimmer out once her kayaker couldn't go further. She also paddled another kayak back to the resort. Everyone did what they could that day.

    My kayaker is very experienced, and I am grateful she hung on as long as she did. She's a rock star. I really felt she was going above and beyond and wouldn't have wanted her to go further under those conditions. I really loved SCAR and now I have a reason to go back.

  • SwimUpStreamSwimUpStream Portland Oregon Member

    I loved every minute I swam of Apache this year. I made it 11.5 - 12 miles when I was asked to exit the water by the safety boats after my paddler was pulled forward multiple times. I also DNF in 2016 , 1000m from the finish and it broken my swim soul for 8 months. Apache 2017 revived my swim spirit 10 fold.

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