44 Miles - Done
Well I am back from vacation and feeling like a new man. After a little more than a week from completing the first ever double crossing of Lake Tahoe - 44 miles - I am filled with emotion and struggling where to start. I first would like to thank everyone who has been following my journey for their amazing and continued support. Accomplishing my goal was incredible, but not as incredible as how much love was shown to me. I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I received over 700 emails from around the world. Half of them from people I do not even know. Before I get started on the final recap of my swim, I wanted to share some statistics regarding my blog http://jamiep.yardbarker.com. These statistics represent a three day period, August 12th – 14th.
11,985 Total Visits
1,975 Unique Visitors
No visitors from Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska or Kentucky
Poland had the 3rd highest number of visitors behind the U.S. and the U.K.
Average time on the site was 6 min 36 sec
Iceland, Ecuador, Trinidad each had 1 visitor
143 towns in California viewed the blog
801 visits via mobile device
The power of the internet is amazing. I am in awe of the support, and ultimately just feel very privileged to have had so much love thrown my way.
Back in November of 2009, I completed my second Ultraman World Championship (6.2 mile swim, 262 mile bike, 52 mile run). The Ultraman is an Invitation Only event, and I felt honored to be competing with a group of really amazing athletes. I finished 16th overall, and was thankful to be done. I spent the following week with my wife and daughter vacationing in Hawaii. On the second night after the race, I awoke in the middle of a rain storm and could not go back to sleep. I thought about what I had just accomplished, and as I always do, began to think about what I wanted to do next. Being in Hawaii, the place where I finished my college swimming career, I decided that I wanted to get back to swimming.
Three weeks later I called a friend of mine, Matt Dixon, founder and owner of Purple Patch Fitness www.purplepatchfitness.com . I told him that I wanted to do something big. Something that I could call my own! We talked a bit, but did not come up with anything that felt right. That same day while driving home from work, I started thinking about what it would be like to be the first person to do a triple crossing of Lake Tahoe – 66 miles – and the idea for the Tahoe Triple was born. I emailed Matt right away, and his response was “that’s it.” Matt then put me in touch with one of the top ultra swimming coaches, Gerry Rodriguez. I approached Gerry and spoke with him about my goals. He decided to put me in touch with Steve Munatones. Steve was the USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Team – Coach at the 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 World Swimming Championships. Head coach at the 2004 World Open Water Swim Championships. Assistant coach at the 2006 and 2007 USA Swimming National Team Select Training Camps. Coach of Catalina Channel, English Channel and USA Swimming National Championship swimmers.
In addition, Steve was 2003 inductee in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and member of the Board of Directors. Professional marathon swimmer and 1982 World 25K Swimming Champion in Lake Windermere, U.K. Completed 5 unprecedented solo swims in Japan between 20 - 36 miles. 2001, 2005 and 2007 USA Swimming award recipient.
Steve has provided me with incredible amounts of knowledge and runs the most complete open water website www.thedailynewsofopenwaterswimming.com .
The stage was set. My initial plan was to go for the triple crossing this year, but I decided that that the better choice was to complete the double crossing first in order to better prepare. This was the right decision.
I began my training with a bang. I was not in very good shape, but swam 10 hours my first week. Boy did I hurt. A huge fear flooded over me. What have I gotten myself into? My farthest swim to date was 7.8 miles. I was going to swim six times my farthest distance. I had many sleepless nights. I spoke to my sports psychologist, Paige Dunn. We decided that I needed to build some confidence and do a long swim. I wanted to do a point-to-point lake swim so that there was no way of making the swim shorter. I recruited my good friend Eric Benisek to paddle for me. My goal was to swim the length of Lake Berryessa from north to south. We set out early on a Saturday morning, and I began to swim. A sense of exhilaration came over me as we passed 7.8 miles. When the day was done, I had covered 11.2 miles in 4 hours and 47 minutes. The excitement lasted about an hour, and then that fear crept back into my brain. “This is only ¼ of the Tahoe Double” I said to myself.
I continued my pool swims and occasional lake swims. My good friend Greg Larson became my training partner. I have to thank his wife Rachelle for her support as well. Greg and I spent many hours traveling to various places, and swimming together to prepare. With the weekend of the Tahoe Double approaching in a few months, I decided that another milestone swim was necessary. I made plans to swim the entire length of Clearlake. I put a crew together and we set out to tackle this challenge. My goal was to be the first person to ever do this. With my amazing crew and a huge desire, I set out at 4am to tackle the lake. Conditions were perfect and the swim went well. The swim was completed with little problems. I made claim to being the first to swim Clearlake – 17.68 miles in 7 hours and 36 minutes. A few weeks ago, I received an anonymous email from someone with nothing but a link to it. I clicked the link hoping it was not a virus. Attached I found a brief article about a 15 year old boy who had swam the length of Clearlake in 1972. I would therefore like to clarify that I am the second person to swim the length of Clearlake, not the first.
I continued to train, and upped my weekly mileage to approximately 70,000 yards. About two weeks before my swim, a lady in her 80’s approached me in the pool. I had seen her there more than 50 times. She swam every day for one hour. I had not talked to her much. A few pleasantries and a hello, but never a full conversation. Each time after she finished, she would get out of the pool, dry off and sit at one of the tables. She would open up what looked like a journal and write in it. On this day she approached me. I said hello. She then looked me straight in the face, like a teacher would at school and said to me “you are getting much better.” I giggled to myself and thought “I’m glad someone notices.” We talked for a few minutes. She explained to me that she started swimming 10 years ago and she is now 81. She swims one mile a day, every day but Sunday. She writes down all of her workouts in her book. She even said that she has written about me. She also told me that for five years she thought a mile was 76 laps. She did not realize that it was 66 laps until she went to a USS meet to watch the kids swim. I learned something that day. We all need something to call our own. For this woman, it is her goal of swimming one mile a day. For me, it was swimming 44 miles. Ultimately it is not just about her finishing the one mile, or me finishing the Tahoe Double. It is the daily journey that truly means something. A little bit of the fear I had disappeared.
Accomplishing an event like this takes more than just training and preparation; it takes an army of amazing people to support you. I have been extremely fortunate to have such an amazing team that has supported my through this adventure. Without them I could not have done this. Each crew member rotated duties through out the 25 hour swim. Each taking a turn kayaking, navigating, driving the boat, preparing food, and giving moral support. I have been told the longest anyone slept was 2 hours.
Matt Richardson – Crew Chief: Matt is my best friend. We met in the 6th grade and have grown up together. Matt has been by my side through some of the toughest times in my life. He was instrumental in the planning and preparation. I owe him and the rest of my crew so much gratitude. Matt is a physical therapist at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco. His understanding of who I am as a person was a hug benefit during the swim. Matt plans for the worst, but expects the best.
Keith Metzger – Another one of my best friends. Keith’s desire to help me goes beyond friendship. His excitement over the months was a vital part of my training. I would swing my Keith’s house after many workouts. Always wanting to know how things are going. He has crewed for me on many of my long swims as well as during the Ultraman World Championships. His willingness to do anything during my swim was amazing.
Garrett Harley - Garret is a relatively new friend. We met through Keith. I had the pleasure of seeing Garrett race his first ironman triathlon a few weeks ago. An amazing accomplishment. Garrett is one of the best motivators I have ever met and one of the best support kayakers I have ever had. He always said the right thing to me. Pushing me when I needed pushing and providing advice when necessary. I am grateful to have Garrett as my friend.
Chris Hauth – Well Chris has been a long time friend and has coached me through many of my adventures. Chris runs one of the premiere triathlon coaching companies in the world www.aimpcoaching.com. Chris is also one of the top triathletes in the country. He has competed in more than 15 Ironman World Championships and has placed close to the top in his age group and in the top 30 overall. When Chris offered to help me during my swim I was overjoyed to know that I had someone that I utterly respect and cherish as an athlete and friend by my side.
Chris Danise – Chris and I met in College. We have reconnected recently and I can not thank him enough for his support. Chris made the trip out from San Francisco on a number of occasions to swim with me. He too is an accomplished ironman triathlete. Chris played an important roll in my crew. From swimming with me to paddling, I truly feel blessed to have had him with me. Chris is a real estate broker in the East Bay. www.chrisdanesi.com
Debbie Lopker – Debbie and I reconnected through facebook. She offered to be my communications director during the swim. She played a vital role in getting the message out to the thousands of people who followed my swim. I truly can not thank her enough for her enthusiasm. Her friendship means a great deal to me and I thank her from the bottom of my heart. She did an amazing job.
Jim Patrick – I do not know quite where to start. From the beginning my Dad has been my biggest supporter. I truly do not know how to thank him. His assistance in the logistics of this event was incredible. From teaching the crew how to navigate to providing us with back up gear that was ultimately needed, to running pizza out to the crew in the middle of the night. Without him this could not have been done. Thanks Dad.
Teresa Patrick – My beautiful wife and number one supporter. When I think back to all the crazy stuff I have done, it is unthinkable to have accomplished any of it without her. From the day I decided to do this swim her willingness and love kept the fire going. She is why this became a reality. She is truly my swim angel. Thank you honey.
Friday August 13th I awoke with a sense of comfort. I had my entire crew with me. We had all day to get ready. My crew chief, Matt Richardson, was already hard at work going over his lists. Matt has crewed for me for both Ultramans….he expects the best but also prepares for the worst. The sense of confidence in my crew was overwhelming. After breakfast, everyone was in full gear. At 10:30am we had my truck fully packed. It is amazing how much stuff you need to swim 44 miles. From my nutritional needs to food for the crew, we could not fit one more thing into the back of my truck. The feeling I got from my crew was that failure was not an option. The excitement began to build. The fear that I had was still there, but over the past months I had developed a method of using this fear to my advantage. We are not born with fear; we develop it through experiences in life. I knew if I lost this fear or could not control it, I would be in trouble. A few days earlier I did a few interviews. In each one of the interviews I was asked the same question. “Do you think you can finish?” My answer every time was “I would not be here if I thought I was not going to finish.” I may not be the fastest, but I always finish….Always!!!! When we address fear as a method of creating our goals, we can ultimately create the greatest successes.
My crew and I headed to Jake’s On The Lake for a pre-swim lunch. Jake’s would be the headquarters for all the supporters who came to Lake Tahoe to help me celebrate my journey. We had a nice lunch before heading over to the Hyatt Incline to pick up our boat. As my crew loaded our supplies, it became apparent that it was going to be crowded. Food, communication equipment, sleeping bags and various personal belongings quickly took up much of the boat.
As we pulled the boat closer to the beach, I could see a crowd building in anticipation of my start. At approximately 4:25pm, I jumped off the boat and swam to the beach. I was greeted with hugs and well wishes. My 4 year old daughter approached me to give me a hug. I leaned down to hear her ask me “Daddy are you finished with your swim?” The crowd of 75-100 laughed as I kissed my little girl. I said a few words of thanks, and stopped before my emotions could get the better of me. I gave a wave and hit the water. Weeks earlier, Greg Larson I and were doing a training swim and decided that he would swim one length of Tahoe with me. He had been putting in so much time with me, I was very happy he was going to accomplish something for himself as well. With Greg by my side, we began to swim. The air temperature was in the high 70’s. The wind was blowing at 12 knots directly at us. The chop was increasing and the swimming was a bit difficult. Both Greg and I fought the chop, and were surprised that it continued through the entire first six hours of our swim. We knew it was going to be a bit breezy, but did not plan on it lasting so long.
As I write this, I struggle to remember many of the details. As time goes by more and more memories come to the surface. I remember the first two hours pretty well. Greg and I have a similar stroke in calm water, but in choppy conditions we are totally different. I tend to want to power through the chop while Greg is more at ease. Every so often, Greg would touch me on the leg. This was Greg’s signal that I was pushing too hard. I had a difficult time slowing my stroke down, but knew that ultimately it was the right thing to do. Greg swam by my side slightly behind me for the next few hours
My plan was to feed every twenty minutes. All was going well. I was taking in about 380 calories an hour. As the sun was setting, Greg and I were feeling great. We continued to swim at a good pace, although a bit slower than planned because of the conditions. I have to be honest; I do not remember much of that night. As many of my friends know, I normally go to sleep around 9pm and if I stay up late, I get very cranky. As the night became dark on the lake, swimming became easier as the chop died down. I had planned all these mental games to keep my mind at ease. People have asked me over and over “what did you think about for 25 hours?” The reality is, I thought of three things: 1. All the people supporting me. 2. My wife and daughter. 3. FINISHING. I can not tell you how many times I thought about being done.
Swimming at night is a strange thing. The only thing that was guiding us was the glow sticks attached to the side of the kayak. My crew was amazing throughout the night. They stayed right on my left shoulder. At one point I felt like I was sleep swimming. I even closed my eyes while moving my arms round and round. I began to get this sense of peace that can only be found when you are doing something you truly love. I was in the middle of my dream. I was living it. Finally, I was here. After all the work and preparation I was doing it. I had visualized being in this place many times. It took me almost eight hours to get to this place, but I was there. It occurred to me that at this point in the swim, I had now swum farther than I ever had before. In events like this, milestones are very important. They can be small and they can be huge. This was huge. Every stroke from here on out was a milestone. I felt very privileged to be doing what I was doing.
As the night turned into early morning, Greg and I could sense the other end. The lights on the south shore became brighter, and I could feel Greg’s excitement when we stopped to feed. Greg’s longest swim before this was 10 miles. This swim was over two times his longest swim. As we approached the beach, we weaved our way through the boats tied to buoys. Swimming by the pier leading to the beach I could see a few people standing on the end. I thought to myself “what are these people doing out at this hour?” I realized that they were there for us. As Greg and I stepped onto the beach at 3:37am, I saw my mother, Karen Rogers, and two family friends, Bill O’Brien and Darcy Tarbell, waiting to give me a hug. I tried to stand up but became lightheaded. I decided to crawl up the beach instead. I gave Greg a hug and turned to begin my journey back.
I was now on my own. I had a mix of emotions. I was exhilarated from having just swum the entire length of Lake Tahoe, but I also felt alone for the first time. This lasted about five minutes. Upon my return to the chase boat I received congratulations from my crew. 22 miles to go. This is where things began to get interesting.
My body was hurting but I was doing ok. I knew the pain was going to get worse. I expected this and even embraced the idea of overcoming it. The next few miles were tough. Not because I was hurting, but because the finish seemed so far away. I became frustrated. There is always a point in any ultra distance event that things seem to move in slow motion. This frustration continued until the sun began to come up. What an amazing feeling. Although mentally I was doing ok, my stomach began to reject food. My body began to swell and I was taking in very little nutrition. At around 10am, my feedings were reduced to anything I could keep down and instead of feeding every 20 minutes, I was reduced to swimming as far as I could before stopping. My stomach was so empty, that when I could get something down I could actually feel it in my stomach.
I do not remember much from here on out. I do remember the endless string of boats coming out to cheer me on. I do remember being a bit frustrated that everyone was seeing me in a bad place. I had swum 35 miles with little trouble, and now I was in trouble. My body was shutting down. I was not in a place to fight the pain. With no energy, due to not being able to take in any nutrition, my body began to break down protein in my muscles. I began to throw up, but nothing was coming out. This was extremely painful. At about three miles out, I asked my crew chief, Matt Richardson if I was going to be able to finish. Never did I consider quitting mentally, but I was unsure if my body was going to let me go on. I was reduced to a few strokes, and then stopping. This continued for the next hour. With Matt by my side, we continued to move forward. Emotions took over and I began to cry. I threw up again, but this time blood came out. I could see that Matt was extremely concerned. Thinking back, I could tell that he was considering pulling me from the water. The next hour was a blur. I do remember telling my crew that I was not going to stop and that I wanted my daughter to see me finish.
At last I could see the people on the beach. It seemed so far away, but I knew my dream was within reach. As I approached the beach, Matt requested that I swim a bit farther to the left as there was a wedding going on. I protested, but ultimately agreed. Hitting the beach was truly amazing. I had visualized this in every workout that I did. As I began to stand, my body said no. My crew rushed to assist me as the huge crowd cheered. I was done. I had dreamed this in my mind and now it was reality. There are really no words to describe this feeling.
I had just become the first person to swim Lake Tahoe – 44 miles. It is an odd feeling being the only one in the world to have done something. This is something that will last forever. There may be others who swim the same distance, but there will only be one first. Although I am so proud of my accomplishment, I will forever go back in my mind and draw from this experience. The greatest thing that has come out of this is that the amazing amount of love that was given to me. I AM the luckiest person in the world. This might sound cliché, but I truly feel it. This event has changed me forever. It has made me a different person. I have strengthened old friendships and made amazing new friendships as well. I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. My heart is filled with something that I never thought would come out of this experience. From conquering fear, I have made myself a better person. I love each and everyone one of you more than I can express. You all have been an amazing part of my journey. Always remember, the finish line is not the measure of success….enjoying the journey is what life is all about. Live life, experience something new.
Stay tuned for a separate blog post on our amazing documentary. Remember Clean Water is Good Water.
My Wetsuit Sponsor is offering 1% off for every mile I swam. That is 44% off. Use code "tahoe44" at
Tahoe TV(pre swim) http://video.mpora.com/watch/nr2FiOsFa/
Tahoe TV(post swim) http://www.tahoetopia.com/news/jamie-patrick-tahoe-double
KCRA TV http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXL62ja30IM
Daily News of Open Water Swimming
San Francisco Examiner
Stay tunes for some additional publications that are coming out.