The Most EPIC Way to Swim Lake George

      “The journey is the thing.”

― Homer ―


People have swum the length of Lake George.  All day and into the night.  Whether with struggles and tears, or happily and smoothly, they’ve swum on and on and on until all 31 (ish) miles have been traversed at last.

In one fell swoop, they have conquered!

… and then they go home.

And that’s that.

But, oh friends, if Odysseus had just made it home in the wake of The Iliad… we would have never had The Odyssey!  All of that adventure and triumph and excitement and thrill!  How different would your tenth grade English Class have been?!  Boredom, I tell you – fraught with boredom.


Without further ado.

I present to you… the most EPIC way to swim Lake George:

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First Day of Summer!


First there was a beautiful day at the sea!


And a beautiful, fun swim with good friends.


And there was a sea monster.


And a bunch of well-behaved hooligans.


And an epic race into battle!


To the sea! To the sea!


And Viking warfare ensued in a battle that would echo across the ages!


The mighty Titans clashed like tsunamis. Brute force and brawn! (And a cuddly little hug or two…)


“… is this Sparta?”


Everybody wins when there is ice cream.


We stood on the dark beach watching the waves break.  Breaker after breaker after breaker.  They layered back toward a blackness without definition.  The wind was insistent.  The orange street lights dimly lit the street behind and the beach in front, but there was no moon.


I didn’t know the beach – I hadn’t arrived early enough to see it during the daylight hours.  I knew my two companions were both experienced and determined.  Experienced and determined – such a recklessly convincing combination of daring and safety.  Oh, and weren’t we all just good medicine for each other in our boldness!


Will the kayak capsize?  Will we get past the breakers?  Do they ever end?  Can I swim in the sea at night?  Is it safe?  Have I done this during the day?  Would I do this during the day?


Fact was, I hadn’t ever had to swim out past where the waves were breaking.  In times when I should have in order to swim – I was too uncomfortable to risk it, being alone.  But since I had a kayaker in this instance, it seemed like it would be a safe enough activity during the day.  That was all of the deciding I needed in my head.  I have everything I need for a night swim.  I will be fine.


The kayak went rocketing into the sea and the night, and you couldn’t tell the difference between the two.  Coach Bill was so very skilled at getting out and staying afloat.  The buoy, by which he meant to tow us to shore, in case either of us swimmers should be in distress, fell off in the wild ride and Helen, laughing, collected it from where we waded in the cold, frothy sea.  I slipped the tow line around my waist, trailing the buoy behind me, and waded deeper into the darkness.


I could see the glowsticks on the kayak bobbing somewhere 100 yards out.  It seemed so far away. I waited for Helen to join me before starting toward it.


I waited. Antsy. Shifting in a fluid world.


She’s not a toy, the sea.  I forgot how very alive she is


It seemed like quite some time, and I realized that Helen hadn’t made any progress to where I was.  I didn’t want to leave her behind and at last wandered back to where she stood.


“Are you all right?” I asked her.

“I’m scared,” she said bravely.


I don’t think I told her that I was too (because I certainly was).  I think that I chose not to voice my fears.  It didn’t seem to do much good to confess it and have both of us agree on it.  The kayak was already out there.  We were going to go out there too.


The choice was made on shore.


“Come on,” I said, convincingly, “It’s not that bad.  It’s just another day at the beach.”


And we stepped forward together, Helen repeating the sentence out loud.  We got in deeper and deeper, slowly, each step another coaching, coaxing, convincing word.  The beacon of the kayak still bobbed in the dim distance. Now visible, now not.


When the water roiled around our chests, Helen turned to me, “Do we start swimming now?”


I considered that.  It seemed like it might be too much. It might have the potential to be overwhelming.  There was no hurry, after all.


“Why don’t we just try putting our heads under water first?” I asked.

“Okay,” Helen said.

“You might want to put your goggles on,” I added.


She did so.  We dipped into the water – or basically chose a wave to succumb to.  The waves were still breaking, crashing over our heads.  At some point, it was apparent that we were going to be stuck in the breakers if we didn’t start swimming, and I told Helen I was going to head toward the kayak.


I’m not quite sure when she grabbed a hold of the rescue buoy that I had slipped around my waist, but out to the kayak I swam… towing Helen along behind.


I don’t think we quite laughed about this at the time, but oh how we did later!  When we made it out to where Coach Bill was paddling, Helen – in her happy, triumphant way – announced that she wasn’t quite ready to swim, but she was kicking!  We picked a direction parallel to the shore and continued in this way – paddler, swimmer, and kicker – in a vast, angry, uncharitable nightsea.


Goodness, what an adventure!


We swam along, following the kayak.  The shoreline was completely swallowed in a shroud of black ocean for the most part.  I felt so disoriented.  There was so much to think about.  When could I breathe next?  Where was the kayak?  Where was Helen?  Was she doing all right?


When Helen did start swimming, something about the buoy I was towing changed and the line kept tangling in my feet.  That, and something changed mentally for me too.  I became less and less concerned about Helen and if she was okay – now that she seemed okay – and I suddenly became more and more aware of myself and the sea and the conditions… and my own fears.


Fear is the one voice that haunts me the most.  He comes and he goes and he takes up too much space in my head and my heart.  We are not born with fear – most fears, anyway – we learn them.  I do the things I do, regardless, because I know that most of my fears are silly.  But it is not easy to knock that voice out of my head.


I wanted to swim until I found a place of comfort in there – in that turbulent, rollicking darkness with its unknown creatures.  The sea of many voices.  I wanted to wrestle with the fear for a while and know that I would be okay after.  Because I always am.  Fear is never the thing that hurts you unless you obey it.


But… half an hour in, it was determined that we should go back.  It was a good choice, the conditions would have been tough on a bright day, let alone at night!  And with Helen and I at different speeds and only having one kayaker, it was just not feasible to continue for an extended period of time.


Once we got to shore I think we all felt relieved and very impressed with ourselves.  There was a giddy sense of awe at what we had done.  It was definitely one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever, ever had.


It was much later that I sat wondering about myself and night swimming in the sea… and fear.  I wish… I wish I wasn’t afraid.  In swimming.  In life.  I wish it wasn’t so very frightening.  The night.  The sea.  The voices and fantasies.  The dark.  Trying something new.  Dreaming bigger than myself.  Wanting to make a difference.  Choosing the hard and best thing.  I wish it wasn’t scary.  How I wish it wasn’t so.


Maybe someday, it won’t be.


But until then, I will hold onto Apostle Jim’s recent words about fear and the way you overcome fearful situations:


Through Power.

Through Love.

With a Sound Mind.


If I have anything, I have those things.  I have a sound mind that thinks me into, through and out of the darkness.  I have the power of a foundation of experiences that convince me I am strong enough to continue.  I have the deepest love for swimming, for the sea, and for making the world a better place that is all the motivation any person ever needed to face anything.


Maybe we don’t go to the sea to be healed.


Maybe we go to the sea to be shown the tools we have to heal ourselves.


Channel It Update!

“Everyday it’s-a gettin’ closer… going faster than a roller coaster…

love like yours will surely come my way – ah-ay-ay-ay…”

Disclaimer: I apologize for the plethora of exclamation points throughout this post.  But I am just so excited about my life right now!

Well friends!  The 100 days mark has come and gone!  We are now looking at 80 or so days until the start of my tide!  WOO HOO!
Just to let you know what’s been happening:
1. We are swimming without snow – (sad face) the water has warmed up to high 60s and low 70s in most of the lakes I frequent.  Lake George and Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog still seem to be hovering in the late 50s, early 60s.  Prime!
2. This week I took it really easy, recovering from a crazy week last week.  It’s been the slowest week since November and promises to be the last ‘lazy’ week for a while.
3. I got the best early birthday present ever from some of my very dearest, closest friends – an underwater camera!  The blog will be shining with pictures of underwater gorgeousness and picturesque landscapes!  I can’t wait!
4. I am glad to say that my shoulders have been doing really, really well!  I feel strong and good all around!
Coming up soon:
1. This week there is a beach house in my future and sea swimming and… night swimming IN the sea!  I am so looking forward to some long swims!  Hooray for swimming friends with similar goals!  Can’t wait!
2. My adventure swimming friends and I have been busy tackling the logistics of a multi-day swim across Lake George.  So far, it involves a sailboat and maybe a couple kayaks, multiple swimmers, overnights at a campsite accessible only by water and four days of adventure, islands and amazing times!  Stay tuned for those shenanigans!
3. I’ve added the Son of a Swim with Kingdom Games to my repertoire of swims for the year and Guri will be swimming it with me this coming Saturday.  Can’t wait!
4. Let’s not forget 10 mile Kingdom Swim!  Just around the corner in July!
5. Swim Across the Sound will be August 2nd!  15.5 miles to finish up my training before the taper begins.
Fundraising efforts
If anybody is interested in supporting my English Channel swim and be a part of this amazing adventure, we are selling miles of my swim through Intrepid Athletics.  Visit the website here to find out more:
Thanks everyone for tagging along!  I will do my best to keep up with the blog posting as things go along!


Workout Inspirations: Brothers

“Hey Brother! There’s an endless road to rediscover.

Hey Sister! Know the water’s sweet, but blood is thicker.

Oh and if the sky comes fallin’ down for you…

There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.”

- Hey Brother, Avicii



I have six brothers.

It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?

Bethany and Brothers

I’d say this about sums it up.


My brothers are some of the most important people in my life.  They have not only shaped who I am, but they continually shape who I am becoming.  They each have their own attributes and character traits, quirks and flaws.  I love every part of every one of them so entirely that sometimes I see right past their foolishness and adore them all the more for their humanity.  They are some of the best men I’ve ever known – hard working, smart, loyal, strong, proud… stubborn.

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Channel It Update!

It’s official:

Open Water Swimming Season has come to VT!!

Guri and I

Water temperature was a balmy 44 degrees on Lake Bomoseen this day!


If you haven’t spotted the girl and the brown dog, just keep a weather eye on Lake Bomoseen and the Chittenden Reservoir!

Sometimes, open water swimming in Vermont looks like the below photos, too…

wpid-img_20140416_170935_158.jpg wpid-img_20140416_171018_503.jpg


I didn’t intend to order a ANSI rated safety swimsuit, but the more safe I can be in the water, the better all around.

Open Water Safety Gear

On the left is the “grab bag” suit. On the right is my Class III safety jacket for work. Awesome.


All in all, I’d say I’m more than ready for open water swimming season.  I have a long pool swim planned for this Saturday and hopefully that will be the last one in the pool!  I’ve got an excellent group of local ladies keeping an eye on me whenever I swim open water and that keeps me getting in the lake at least a couple times a week, even when it’s ridiculously cold.

The two biggest struggles I’m facing right now are 1.) I’m still working on my shoulder issue(s) and trying to be mindful of them and keep myself strong and 2.) my feed situation.  I had missed a couple appointments with my chiropractor only to have him say when I was leaving this last time, “Um… we have a lot of things to work on.”  Great.  However - I think I’ve finally had a breakthrough in my feed situation!  Huzzah!  I’m sure I will know more after Saturday’s long swim – so stay tuned if you care about these sorts of things.

In case you missed it: Natalie Boyle of Intrepid Athletics and I were on the show The 30 on WCAX. You can check it out at the link below.

And for my final update, I just finished my 1st event of the season: the Cold Water Classic.  The water was only 47/48 degrees and the course was shortened from its original 5.2 miles for safety.  I am proud to say I completed 3 miles in 1 hour 36 minutes and won first place for going the farthest and staying in the longest!  I was so excited!  I don’t think I’ve ever won first place at anything, before!  What a fantastic day and swim!



Penfield Trophy

First Place Trophy! …Me!

We’re off to a great start after a long winter, and the best is yet to come!  I can’t wait for adventure swimming and brown dog swimming and all the shenanigans and games and good times and bodies of water the future has in store.

After all, it’s 2014!  I’m going to SWIM THE CHANNEL!!