Sarah Thomas going for the century mark on Lake Champlain

Swim start around 8 am EST, 1 pm Greenwich time, Monday, August 7. Her tracker Will try to post updates here but for more frequent and better coverage like her on Facebook



  • mjstaplesmjstaples Atlanta, GA, USSenior Member

    This is so epic! I can't wait to watch the tracker for 70+ hours! Looks like she got a pretty amazing crew also!

  • kejoycekejoyce New EnglandSenior Member

    that is SO MANY MILES

    gooooo sarah! i look forward (again) to obsessively-compulsively checking my tracker for the next few days :)

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    well, I know what I'll have open at work for the next few days.

  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COSenior Member

    She's off! Go Sarah!

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited August 2017

    @ssthomas is making strong progress, steady 1500-1600 meters per 30 minutes, stroke rate range of 58-60. 30.4 km (18.9 miles) in first 10 hours.

    MSF exclusive photo ;-)


  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin

    Regarding the route: This is a nonstop single loop from Rouses Point NY, proceeding down the lake to Gardiner Island (just south of Charlotte VT), around the island without landing, and then returning to the start. The route uses only the island and permanent points of land as route markers.

    @Karl_Kingery, anything to add?

  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COSenior Member

    Only that she (along with her all-star crew) is going to and has been fighting off lampreys (basically vampire fish), dodging reefs and islands, swimming through a storm, swimming through the night (twice), crossing ferry lines, passing castles, defeating broken boats, and traveling over 104 miles in three days without touching land or anyone else.


  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    OI000063 into her first night she swims

  • pavlicovpavlicov NYC USASenior Member

    I am on a bit long medical leave since today and I was worried that I will be bored. I am so happy that I can watch the most epic swim the whole time without hurting my work performance! Also, twice I cycled from NYC to Montreal around the Lake Champlain, so I love that I know the area.

    Swim Sarah Swim! You are one of the most incredible women and hero to so many of us!

  • swimrn62swimrn62 Stowe, VTSenior Member

    Amazing. I took some time off work to watch her round the 1/2 way mark. After 50 miles she was
    asking after her family, smiling, chatting, and looking like she walked a few blocks for a snack. Mind blown.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited August 2017

    Sarah completed the first half of the swim (52.3 miles) in 29hr 49min, which she jokingly stated was her "personal best time for a 50+ mile swim."

    On the return trip, she was buffeted for the first few hours by a headwind (force 2-3). The wind gradually subsided in the evening, and she is now swimming through her 2nd night under a bright full moon in force 1+ conditions.

    As of right now (11:15 pm Eastern) she has completed 63.8 miles of the route, with 40.6 remaining. She has slowed down a bit, totally understandably, but is swimming steadily and without complaints.

    I'm co-observing with Elaine @emkhowley. We're doing 6 hour shifts during the day and 4-hour shifts at night (I'm currently on break). Andrew @malinaka and Craig @uss_lenning are keeping a similar schedule in piloting our 60-foot sailing vessel Loose Cannon. There is a separate pontoon boat piloted by @Fil White (Mr. Memphre himself) and Sarah's husband Ryan. Scott Olson is kayaking for most of the swim, with occasional relief. Also on crew are @lakespray , @trouble, and Sarah's sister & mom.


  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    New proposal for the MSF t-shirt. "MSF, the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe... and then there's Sarah."

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin

    She's still at it, about 20 miles left out of 104, surpassing her 80 miles in Lake Powell from last year.

    There will be stories from last night that could fill the pages of a Jon Krakauer book.

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    evmo said:

    There will be stories from last night that could fill the pages of a Jon Krakauer book.

    Oh, goodness. Glad everyone made it through all right. You've really piqued my curiosity.

  • suziedodssuziedods Mem​ber
    edited August 2017

    CAN'T wait to hear stories... so glad everyone is ok.
    When the apocalypse hits.. I want Sarah's crew on my team...
    I also foresee A LOT of MSF calendar photos...

  • I was telling my teammates about Sarah's swim, and one of them asked what she does to stave off hypothermia. Does the desitin help with that? Or, is it her fuel/activity level that does it? Or, does she not do it, and simply deal with it at the end of the swim?

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    @Sara_Wolf - it would be a combination of being acclimated to colder water, and generating great by swimming. Your body can develop brown fat to act as a metabolic insulation

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    She's over the 100 mile mark! Setting an unbelievable standard. If she does a flip turn at the end and keeps going I don't know what I'm going to think...

  • jnewton116jnewton116 SingaporeMember

    SHE DID IT!!!!!

  • An extraordinary accomplishment. Setting the bar high for oneself, then passing it, is a true challenge and an inspiration to many, as the comments on Sarah's FB page attest.

    I'm gobsmacked -- a century plus swim!

    Thanks to Evan for making it possible to follow Sarah's journey, and to the stellar crew for progress notes and videos during the swim and at its conclusion.

    Most especially, thanks to Sarah!! Am looking forward to reading about the hoary details -- leeches, limpets, velvety nights, bright sunrises and all the Krakauer moments in between.

    Welcome back to dry land, Sarah!

  • caburkecaburke Charter Member

    Congratulations Sarah. Much respect!

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    Way beyond my comprehension. Enormous respect to you @ssthomas

  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member

    Unbelievable! Crazy Kudos, @ssthomas!!!

  • Sarah4140Sarah4140 DenverMember


  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    Stunning! Congratulations on an amazing achievement @ssthomas

  • ViveBeneViveBene Member
    edited August 2017

    Is the swim cap magical? Does @evmo have more sitting in his living room?

    (I keep looking for media reports on this swim, and not finding any on its conclusion. Perhaps the interviews await swimmer recovery.)

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member



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

  • I can not wait to hear all the details- but for now I hope Sarah is resting and recovering.
    She is an absolute hero to me and an inspiration!

    as Wendy said- just ...WOW!

  • JbetleyJbetley UKMember

    Completely amazing!! Amazing mental strength and what must be a technically perfect stroke to remain injury free for so long. Congratulations on a world beating performance!!

  • EODEOD Member

    I was blown away when I read about 40 bridges. For 100 miles I just don't know what to say. this needs to be picked up by AP

  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest

    Two Fins Up and a whole lot more!!!


    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited August 2017

    Elaine and Cathy and I took brief video clips fairly regularly throughout the swim (not as much at night - not as much to see). Here's a 19-minute chronological compilation:

    This isn't pro-quality video by any means, but the purpose is to provide a representative sample of what the swim "looked like"... the various weather, conditions, etc.

  • @evmo: Thanks for this video. It's evocative and also a dramatic narrative, with lyrical passages at the beginning melting into the harder grind of combating raucous waves, stroke by regular stroke.

    I hope the curious onlooker (yes?) boats were not an issue; some of them seemed close.

  • mjstaplesmjstaples Atlanta, GA, USSenior Member
    edited August 2017

    So, is @ssthomas a lake monster 7 swimmer now? With flathead, tahoe, memphre, champlain, loch ness, powell, and I'm sure she's done another one too. (And yes, I'm proud to be a groupie!)

  • SuperfishSuperfish St. John US Virgin IslandsMember

    Completely amazing! spectacular accomplishment to all.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    I was thinking about this swim last night. I wonder what it is like to do something that no one else has ever done? Lots of people have ridden a century bike ride. There are ultra marathoners who have run 100 miles. There are a few men who have walked on the moon, which is kind of amazing. Kind of cool to be in a league of one.

  • I had someone ask me yesterday if @ssthomas was human !!!
    I had to ponder that a moment.. :) but... yes, thank goodness she is and she shows us all that we are capable of more than we think we are... both individually and as a team.

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    So blown away by this! Reading about the discipline and preparation as well as talent that went into a swim like this, I'm not surprised she succeeded. Yet I'm still blown away by the enormity of her achievement and what we can learn abouthuman endurance. Tons of kudos!

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    edited August 2017

    As I did with Lake Powell, I’d like to take a few minutes and write up a little something about this swim. Ok, I know it probably won’t be little- it was 104 miles- but I did want to share about the swim from my perspective.

    To start, literally, almost as soon as we finished the Lake Powell swim last October, I knew I wanted to do something further. My husband, Ryan, and I were driving home from Lake Powell, and after a long silence, Ryan looks over at me and says, “So, how about a 100 miles?” I’d been thinking the same thing- so I said, “Yup, I think so.” We didn’t say anything else at the time- we needed to recover and catch up on life a little first. But, as the months went by, we found ourselves debating if we wanted to try for 100 miles in the summer of 2017 or 2018. With a little push from Jamie Patrick, we agreed that we might as well go for it sooner, rather than later. If we knew it was something I wanted to do, then why wait?

    So, we began by, again, searching for big lakes. For a while, I was planning 100 miles in Green Bay, but we found it increasingly hard to find a large boat that would be able to support this swim. Lake Champlain kept coming up again and again- but I kept dismissing it because of the lampreys that live there. LAMPREYS! They’re terrifying creatures, really, and the idea of fending one off during a third night of darkness was really unappealing. However, the more we looked, it seemed like there were no other options for me other than to face my fears of lampreys and start planning a swim in Champlain.

    In planning a big swim, you need to consider a few things: you need crew and you need boats. Without those, you don’t have a swim. I usually work on those two things simultaneously.

    For crew: In a swim of this distance, you need at least two observers. You also need at least two people who are able to drive large boats- houseboats and sailboats are very different from kayaks, speedboats, or pontoons and you need folks very capable/comfortable manning a large ship. You also need people who can kayak and pace swim. I also wanted someone with some medical training, juuuuust in case. You also want a group of people who won’t kill each other after 3 days in a very small space. For Lake Powell, I had a crew of 13 people. It felt like a few too many people, so I wanted to try and consolidate a few roles for this one so people weren’t stepping on each other. Though, in the end, we ended up with 12 people for Lake Champlain. We had two observers, two sailboat drivers, and then 8 more people to help with driving the pontoon, kayaking, pace swimming, and feeding. In the end, while we could have done with fewer people, I’m grateful for every single person we had on board.

    In the end- I had the best crew on the planet:

    Observers: Evan Morrison and Elaine Howley
    Boat Pilots: Craig Lenning and Andrew Malinak
    Paramedic: Alex Thomas
    Crew Chief: Ryan Willis
    General Crew: Scott Olson, Ken Classen, Becky Baxter, Melody Maxson, Cathy Delneo, Phil White

    That group of folks has an incredible number of hours crewing between them. Seven of them crewed my Lake Powell swim. Five of them are experienced/phenomenal open water swimmers themselves. Nearly all of them have crewed for other swimmers in the past. Evan and Elaine are top notch observers (duh). If you wanted a dream team crew- there you have it.

    As far as boats went, there were a few more options on Champlain than in Green Bay, but definitely not as many as we had in Lake Powell. For boat support, you want a mix of a large mothership, a smaller pontoon/speedboat, and a kayak or two. We did find a houseboat, my kayaker friend Scott from Minnesota, agreed to drive out two kayaks, and then Phil White said he’d join us with his small boat. However, about a week before the swim, the houseboat company notified us that the houseboat had been crashed and they had no other options for me for rentals. Then, Phil let me know that his boat was under the weather as well. That means that about a week out of this swim, I had to scramble and find two completely new boat options. My sister, Melody found the pontoon boat we used and Evan located a large sailboat rental company out of Plattsburgh. As a result of great teamwork, we found a 50 foot sailboat and a 24 foot pontoon boat that were both available for the dates of the swim. I was SO stressed trying to find additional boats at the last minute- but, I have to say- now that I’ve gone sailboat, I’ll never go back. It was able to withstand winds/chop in ways that a houseboat would not have been able to handle. It also came with a 10ft, soft bottomed skiff/dingy that proved invaluable as well.

    Next on the planning list is route creation. For this, I looked to my friend Karl Kingery, who was essential in the Lake Powell route creation. In looking at weather patterns and doing some lake research, it was pretty clear that the wind predominantly blows from the south to the north across the lake. When we did Lake Powell, the wind blows in every which direction, which is why I had a headwind for a few days. I really liked the idea of being able to plan around some consistent wind patterns to hopefully avoid two days of swimming into the wind. The first plan we had for a route was to start in the south, at the mouth of the lake, near Whitehall and then swim all the way up to Rouses Point. However, the more we researched the lake, the more we realized that there is sometimes a current that exists in the lake. The current is slight, but does depend on the flow of rivers discharging into the lake (from dams or rainfall) and the wind. Once we realized this, I had to decide: Did I want to swim a point to point swim from Whitehall to Rouses Point, or did I want to complete a 100 mile non-stop swim? Truthfully, I really wanted both, but I would have been devastated to have swum 100 miles, only to be told that it was a current-assisted swim. In talking with my crew and observers, we agreed that a loop route would be our best bet. By swimming nearly the exact same route in an out and back fashion, with a loop around an island, we would negate any advantage received from a current. (Definitions and explanations of the loop route have already been posted by Evan and the MSF, if you need more explanation there.) It was hard for me to give up the point to point aspect. As a marathon swimmer, I really like the idea of going somewhere- starting at one point and finishing at another. But, it was also important to me to complete a current-neutral swim.

    The loop course did give us a few advantages, other than ensuring current-neutrality. First, in the original route, the first 30 miles would have been pretty windy/twisty, like Lake Powell. This is hard to measure distance and hard on the crew to navigate. It also would have been really shallow, so the main support boat would have needed to stay in the main channel, while I bounced across the river with a kayak. Additionally, the lake is really narrow through there, so navigating my armada through that part would have been stressful on everyone. And finally, the water quality down in that part of the lake isn’t that great. Everyone we talked to said that I “likely” wouldn’t get sick from swimming there, but the Coast Guard recommended that I wash my mouth out before any eating/drinking during that first 30 miles or so. By doing the loop course, we were able to swim in clearer/cleaner water, decrease the waypoints in the route (making it a more straightforward course), and ease my mind about getting sick from the water.

    For training, I admit to a slow start. I was sore/beat up/tired/burned out after Lake Powell. I didn’t do hardly any swimming in October, November and December (like 2, maybe 3 times/week). I gained 15 pounds. The planning for this swim really started after the holidays, so that was when I knew I needed to get my butt in gear. I trained pretty well in January- hitting about 30,000 yards/week for a few weeks leading up to Suzie Dods’ 24 Hour Relay in February in San Francisco. But, then Ryan and I took a vacation to Mexico for a week in February and I got sick when we came home. It took the rest of February to build back up to where I was in January. In March, I swam great- building up to 3 weeks at 50k the last two weeks of March and the first week of April. Then, I had some travel at the end of April and got sick again after that travel, so I fell way off the last two weeks of April. In May, with the swim looming only 3 months out, I put down the hammer. I had four weeks at 60k/week in May, then kicked off “real” training with the Mercer Island Marathon Swim double the first week of June. In June and July, I swam 85k/week or more, with a few weeks well over 100k. I was sore, tired, but really focused. I lost that 15 pounds and Ryan said I was stronger than he could ever remember me being. I finished my training with a 20 mile swim in Grand Lake in Oklahoma after my sister’s wedding and then went into a really hard taper. I’ve always done better on short tapers, so there was exactly 15 days between the 20 mile training swim and stepping into the water at Lake Champlain.

    In those 15 days, I made sure to eat as healthy as possible, relax and sleep as much as possible, and focus swims on high intensity, with a few longer stretch-out swims. Because of travel, I didn’t swim at all on Saturday or Sunday before starting the swim on Monday.

    We flew to Albany, NY on Saturday morning where most of my crew gathered at a house I rented in Elizabethtown. On Sunday, we got groceries and made final preparations for the swim. Sunday evening, most of my crew went to load the boat/sleep on the sailboat. The pontoon was also delivered to Rouses Point on Sunday night, so two crew members slept overnight on a pontoon boat. Monday, we got up at 6:30 am and made the 1 hour drive from the house to the start. I had 6 crew members with me for the start, the other 6 were on the sailboat, heading towards us to meet up about an hour into the swim.

    At exactly 8:30 am, after my normal Desitin and Lanolin routine, I stepped into the water at the public boat launch at Rouses Point. At Powell, this moment had been terrifying to me. This time, I was filled with anticipation and excitement and knowledge. I knew exactly what was coming ahead for me, from a mental standpoint, and I knew I was ready. I also knew I had trained better than I had for Lake Powell, so I knew that I was physically as prepared as any person could be.

    The water for most of the first day was calm and smooth- better than we could have imagined. It was overcast, with only a little sprinkle of rain here and there. The first day went great- everyone settled in, I swam through a swarm of HUGE lampreys without incident, and I covered a lot of ground. Normally, I don’t mind night swimming, but it’s hard to face going into the first night knowing that you have two more to go. I did a good job of keeping myself mentally positive and present, unlike at Lake Powell. It rained most of the first night and the wind picked up into a pretty steady, but not terrible headwind. The headwind did cause my some pain in my shoulders and joints that caused me some worry, but the night was fairly short since the sun wasn’t all the way down until about 9:30 pm and by 5 am we were starting to see the night sky lighten. When the sun came up on Tuesday morning, we had made it almost to the Four Brothers overnight, which was amazing to me. I’d never imagined being able to get that far in 24 hours, so between the sun coming up, the clouds clearing, and the wind turning around to give us a boost- I was feeling really, really good, despite my overnight worries.

    We rode the tailwind all the way down the lake the Gardiner Island, the turnaround point. When I realized I had reached the halfway point at 30 hours, I was in shock. That was the fastest I’d ever swum 50 miles and I felt really solid. The little island was beautiful- I got to watch some fishermen catch a pike and really used the moment as a reset. I knew the second half was going to be hard- but I couldn’t believe how great the first have had been so far.

    We had lucked out with the North to South wind all day on Tuesday, but I knew that as soon as I turned around to head back, that blessing was going be a major roadblock. And it was- headwinds suck all of the warmth out of you and really drain you mentally. We did the turnaround at 2:30 pm and fought the wind all the rest of that afternoon/evening. We were hoping that we’d get a tailwind around 8 pm, but the wind stayed solidly in my face for a long, long time.

    Preparing for the 2nd night was tough, but my crew was so positive and took good care of me. I snagged a few moments just with Ryan in the kayak right before sunset. In a swim like this, you can pretty much only hear your kayaker. I wear earplugs and between boat motors and wind, it’s hard to hear anything more than a few feet away. So far, Ryan had just been on the pontoon boat, so while I knew he was there, it was nice to have a moment when he was in the kayak and I could talk to him without screaming for all the world to hear. He understands me, so having just a moment to express things without worrying about anyone else is just a relief (I sure love him…) and makes me feel calmer, more confident, more reassured. The sunset was stunning and we started warm feeds and 50 mg of caffeine in every other feed just as the darkness fell. The wind stayed in my face until about 11 pm or so, then it slowly started to calm and then turn around to its normal South to North orientation. Ken got in and swam an hour with me and then Andrew got in for about 45 minutes around 2 am. I was expecting Craig to get in with me around 3, but not soon after Andrew got out, the wind really started to pick up. Before long, the sailboat and pontoon could no longer stay back with me because they were getting pushed so hard forward. I was body surfing waves that felt like I was in the ocean. My kakayer was getting tossed and spun all over the place. It was a little scary, but I loved EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of it. I was worried about my mom- she gets really seasick- but those around me assured me she was ok (they lied, for what it’s worth- she puked most of the night and into the next day). The hours from 3 am to daylight are always the worst, but the tailwind we got from 3 am to 5 am was so much fun that I hardly noticed it and we passed back into daylight really quickly.

    As dawn approached on Wednesday, the wind lessened a little, but it was still pretty rough going. The lake was pretty choppy, so although I was getting a push, it was still hard. Waves would crash on my head while I was trying to feed. The pontoon boat was stuck a ways head- they were afraid to try and turn around and risk swamping it. My kayaker had a hard time with feeds, so he had to drop the rope on my bottles to avoid twisting and pulling me. I’d drink, and then just drop the bottle, hoping he could find it again in the waves. The sunrise was amazing, but I was a little disappointed in the progress I’d made since my turnaround. The tailwind was giving me a boost, but the 9ish hours of headwind the day before had definitely taken their toll on me. I found myself feeling a little down- I missed Ryan, who was on the pontoon far ahead. The stress of the kayak and sailboat being so often out of my line of sight started to wear on me. I could see the stress in my crew from the night before. I could tell they were getting tired. I’d been up for 48 hours and I was getting emotional. I admit to quite a few tears at this point, though never the meltdown I had at Powell. I was emotional and tired, but never considered getting out. During this time, Craig and Elaine came out to assist the kayaker in the little skiff that came with our sailboat and they helped cheer me up and get me through that really long morning. A random person who had seen us online came to cheer me on- he had written on his skiff (IN PERMANENT MARKER!!) “GO Sarah”. He sang me songs on my feeds and really helped the crew out a lot when we were already so scattered.

    As the morning progressed, it got warmer, the sun came out and things started to fall back into place. When we’d done the turn the day before, I’d been hoping for a midnight finish. As I was getting location updates, I started to realize it was going to be well after midnight. I should have been thrilled- no matter what I was going to finish before my 72 hour goal time, but after getting my hopes up for a midnight finish, I really had to struggle mentally to just let it go and tell myself that I was fine and that I’d finish whenever I finished. That 3rd day had been the best day at Powell, so I was having a hard time dealing with the fact that THIS 3rd day was proving to be a bit harder. But again, credit to my crew: They could tell I needed a boost, so they made Evan get in with me, even though he’d previously said not to expect it. Swimming with him was truly and honor. And then, an hour or so later, around 1 or 2, Ryan was able to come back in the pontoon and Craig and Elaine both jumped in to swim with me for a while. Even though the wind shifted to a headwind and I’d spent a lot of the morning crying, all of these positive people around me made me feel a million times better and helped me keep pushing on.

    Around 5 pm, I found that I was starting to feel a little fuzzy. I wouldn’t call it hallucinations, but the sun and shadows were playing tricks on my eyes that caused me to do a double take in order to figure out what I was actually looking at. Everything started to go a little soft around the edges, and suddenly, falling asleep while I was facedown in the water didn’t seem like a bad idea at all. It caused me some panic, so at my next feed I said I needed my caffeine pills ASAP. They have about 50 mg/pill, which I used to supplement the 50 mg I was already taking with my electrolytes every 1.5 hours. It took a good 30 minutes to feel back to normal, but it did the trick and we were back in business.

    The evening was beautiful- the wind started to die down as the sun went down and we were treated to another beautiful sunset. We had a good plan in place for the third night and my crew was great at continuing to keeping me motivated. The fuzzy feeling came back a few times, but we tossed in another pill each time and that seemed to keep me steady. I was so lucky that the last night was calm- it was like swimming through a soft, warm, velvet blanket. The water was maybe a degree warmer for the last 10k and the absence of wind helped keep me warmer than I had been. (The water was right around 70 the whole way, maybe varying a degree or two in spots, but pretty consistent. Normally, 70 degrees is warm, but add in wind and swimming for a few days and it starts to feel pretty chilly after a while. I had a lot less full body shivers and shaking than I had a Lake Powell, so I felt good- but it still gets old being cold/chilly for so long.)

    That being said, the last part of the swim was sorta icky, despite the calm conditions. It was really shallow with lots and lots of seaweed that would get tangled in my arms and legs. I was prepared for it, since I’d already swum through it before, but it still wasn’t a blast. I have a few scratch marks from sharper pieces of seaweed and the gunk in my suit started to be known- I was itchy and chaffing all over. The combo of caffeine and sleep deprivation were making me feel a little drunk (or what I imagine drunk feels like, since I don’t drink), so my feeds were getting a bit longer as I wanted to stop and chat about all the fun things I was thinking about. Ryan finally got me out of that by actually telling me it was time to start swimming again. And after that, my crew made a point not to actually engage with me in conversation. It was fine- I knew I needed to keep swimming. I also knew they were nervous because I was dawdling in the land of lampreys, so we all wanted to get on with it. But, after three days of not really talking- I suddenly had a lot to say. But, stroke by stroke, feed by feed, we slowly inched our way toward the finish line. I was happy and calm, but really starting to feel done with swimming.

    We had a bit of a hard time finding the landing point, but when we finally got there and I saw the pontoon boat push ahead to shore to meet me, I felt the most relief I’ve ever felt in my life. My Lake Powell swim was filled with joy and happiness as we sprinted toward the finish. This time, I was ready to get out. There was no final surge toward the end- my body and mind had nothing left to give other than my very slow stroke by stroke crawl. As the boat ramp came into focus, I switched to breast stroke so that I could more easily see the ending point and land below me. As grass gave way to cement, I was able to get my feet under me. I took care to remember how slippery the ramp was from the start, so I took it slowly coming out- my ankles and feet tingling below me as they flexed to bear more and more of my weight after three days of being weightless with toes pointed. As soon as I took my first steps out of the water and raised my arms in triumph, my friend Craig was waiting with a towel and he and Ryan took me about 5 steps to place I could sit. As expected, my body began shaking, but I wasn’t cold. Sitting there, with my family and friends around me, celebrating the first ever 100 mile swim is something I’ll never forget. My body was done, my brain was fried, yet I was overcome with gratitude that so many people where there to help and encourage me in fulfilling a dream. No swim of this magnitude could EVER be considered a solo effort, so I’m extremely grateful that those 12 crew members were there to witness, document, and support.

    And, for full transparency, I’ll share what happened next. It’s not pretty- so, if you want the happy story of conquering lakes and swimming a 100 miles, stop now.

    After a few minutes of sitting (you can watch the Facebook Live feed) Elaine and Ryan took me into a stinky, but warm, bathroom and stripped me down and put my dry clothes on me. Ryan basically held me upright while Elaine took everything off and put dry things back on. She even tied my shoes for me. When we got my suit off, we realized I was covered in terrible bumps and bites all down my front. My right breast had chaffed until it was bloody. Parts of my arms and shoulders were sore to the touch. My back had strange discolorations and welts. The sides of my suit had chaffed me raw in what looked like claw marks. Not a pretty sight.

    After they got me dressed, they put me in Scott’s truck. Craig offered me some food- I think I ate a few grapes and wheat thins. We had to do some vehicle shuffling, but eventually we were headed south to Plattsburgh and a hotel room. Ryan, Craig, and Alex (my cousin, the paramedic) got me into a hotel room. I was awake and talking for the 45 minute drive. I remembered that my mom’s laptop was in Phil’s truck, so that didn’t get left behind. Yet, I could barely walk when they got me out of the truck. Once we got into the hotel room, I decided I wanted to rinse off in the tub. I should have just gone to sleep. But, I insisted on a bath and Ryan got me undressed and into the tub. It felt so good to scrub off all the nasty, get some soap on my bites, take out my contacts, and to warm up. Unfortunately, I think I warmed up too fast and as we were draining the tub, I passed out. I felt it coming, and gave Ryan a warning- but it was too late. Ryan had to haul me out of the tub- wet, naked, unconscious and still covered in baby oil (which is what gets the Desitin off) and onto the bed. I came to with him in my face yelling at me to wake up. Apparently, I stopped breathing for a few seconds and he had to put me in recovery position on my side. Of course, this all happened in the 5 minutes my cousin had stepped out of the room to help shuttle some cars around. By the time he was back, I was talking again. He took my vitals- blood pressure was normal and my heart rate was 52, which is normal for me. We discovered that I had started my period sometime in the days before and think that the hot water and loss of blood caused me to get extra dizzy. I was able to get myself into bed and fell into a deep sleep. By this time it was about 6:30 am and we had to be out of the hotel by 1 pm. I woke up at just after 12 pm and had to pee. I woke up Ryan and sat up slowly, but again I passed out, in the bed. I was out for about half a second, but obviously Ryan wasn’t pleased. Alex took my vitals again- all was still fine, and I wasn’t bothered by it. I passed out while trying to go to the bathroom after Lake Powell, and despite some awesome period stomach cramping, I felt normal and felt I just needed more sleep and to work on the transition from horizontal to vertical. The struggle is real! Alex and Ryan tried to talk me into going to the hospital, but I’m stubborn and said no. As I sat up in bed, I started to feel a lot better. Alex and Ryan got our things ready to leave and I was able to walk to the car, under my own power.

    They fed me a breakfast burrito and a vanilla milkshake and we drove down to the house rental. I put myself in bed and slept again for another 5-6 hours. I woke up, took a real shower, ate some pizza for dinner, and went back to bed. When I woke up on Friday morning, I felt pretty dang good. My throat was sore and my tongue a bit swollen, which made eating and drinking a challenge, but otherwise, I was feeling ok. We all went to breakfast, then relaxed at the house. Friday evening, we did a quick trip to check out Lake Placid. On Saturday, I felt close to 100% (just tired), my throat was better, and we took a day trip to Montreal. And Sunday, we flew home. Monday, it was back to work.

    So, there you have it- from beginning to end. Ryan says I’m not allowed to swim 100 miles again- watching me stop breathing, for just a second, was enough. It’s enough for me, too. I know my arms could have kept going, but I know my brain was done. 67 hours of swimming is enough for me. Good thing though: There are an awful lot of swims between 1 and 100 miles that I’d still like to do. I have Swim the Suck coming up in October, nothing major planned for 2018, but a Cook Straight and an EC four way for 2019 already on the books.

    Onward, swim friends. More adventure is to be had!

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Just epic, @ssthomas!!! Epic!

    I'm glad too that you feel better! That must have been scary post-swim!

  • @ssthomas ..... what's the reason behind the no breathing? Are there any hypotheses on that? I get why the passing out.... long time horizontal to needing to be upright makes for some fabulous orthostatic hypotension. But, not breathing? That's.... a new one for me.

  • LynnkubLynnkub Charter Mem​ber

    Kind of a non-sequitor, but the tail end of your story makes me so very very very happy I no longer have periods. And someday I hope I have the honor to crew a swim of yours. You know I will not bring along "baggage"

  • superb achievement and a brilliant blog! Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. Phew!

  • ToadToad Member

    Wow!! Just Wow!! Amazing swim and amazing write up. One of the things that stood out for me along with the actual swim is the amount of prep that went into this. The sheer time spent swimming per week blows me away. One more bit of motivation to not hit the snooze button in the morning. Thanks for your story, and for pushing the limits.

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Ha! I know....don't miss mine either! :)

    Lynnkub said:
    Kind of a non-sequitor, but the tail end of your story makes me so very very very happy I no longer have periods. And someday I hope I have the honor to crew a swim of yours. You know I will not bring along "baggage"

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    edited August 2017

    This, exactly. My goal swim in September is the 8 mile swim I did last year. Doubled up on workouts during the weekend. One workout yesterday. Plan is to do two today, 3600 yds am, group practice pm....up 0530, thinking maybe just one workout will be enough..... sleep looks good.

    BUT...."you gonna be ready to swim 8 miles or aren't you? Tired? You don't KNOW tired... @ssthomas knows tired!"

    So.... 3700 yds this a.m. Will be at practice early tonight to add on to whatever our coach calls for.


    Toad said:
    Wow!! Just Wow!! Amazing swim and amazing write up. One of the things that stood out for me along with the actual swim is the amount of prep that went into this. The sheer time spent swimming per week blows me away. One more bit of motivation to not hit the snooze button in the morning. Thanks for your story, and for pushing the limits.

  • bluemermaid9bluemermaid9 Boca Raton, FL, United StatesSenior Member

    @ssthomas - Thank you for sharing your experience and for showing the world how to accomplish an unprecedented epic swim with integrity. Hats off!

  • molly1205molly1205 Lincoln, NebraskaSenior Member

    Exceptional writing Sarah. I hope to see your photo on the cover of a book one of these days. Incredible, amazing, awe-inspiring adventure! Thanks very much for openly sharing your experience. We all learn from each other.


    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    A book would be wonderful! I'd buy it in a heartbeat!

    molly1205 said:
    Exceptional writing Sarah. I hope to see your photo on the cover of a book one of these days. Incredible, amazing, awe-inspiring adventure! Thanks very much for openly sharing your experience. We all learn from each other.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    molly1205 said:
    Exceptional writing Sarah. I hope to see your photo on the cover of a book one of these days. Incredible, amazing, awe-inspiring adventure! Thanks very much for openly sharing your experience. We all learn from each other.

    I've been thinking about a book more and more lately. I know my writing is passable, but not incredible. I just need someone to come ghost write for me! ;-) Maybe @emkhowley and I need to work something out. :-)

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