The winter of 2021 I read about a small group of people (under 100) that started chipping away at the "Adirondack 47 Laker Challenge" The challenge is open to anyone, is not organized and is purely for an individual pursuit with no awards or trophies. The only rules were:
Each swim must be 1 mile or longer and consecutive (no rest)
Performed in an Adirondack Lake
The name given to these individuals is "Lake Baggers" or "Adventure Swimmers".
My son Asher (8 years old at the time of starting this in June 2021) decided to join in complete his own open water swims. Those are listed with mine. Bob Galinski also jumped on board and started his 47 Laker Challenge with Nicks Lake 8/21/21.
Enjoy the adventures.
#1 Blue Mountain Lake 6/29/21 Water Temp 62 Air Temp 82
Blue Mountain lake was beautiful, clean and clear. I swam this course during our family reunion at The Hedges. My sister Jessica did an amazing job spotting me in a kayak. Water temperature was 62 degrees which made getting a smooth pace and breathing pattern down slightly difficult until my body started producing more heat. This was my first of the 47 swims.
#1 Asher: Little Long Lake. Air Temp 75. Water Temp 68
Asher was brave and courageous, showed no fear and completed his first open water swim of approx. Prior to the swim he pointed to an island 1/2 mile away and said I want to swim to that. A bit confident for his first swim we decided on a 30 meter swim closer to shore. We were proud parents. Asher said on the way home, I am an adventure swimmer now.
#2 Little Long Lake 7/05/21 Water Temp 68 Air Temp 76
Little Long lake is a small, narrow, pristine lake in the southern Adirondacks. Its a shallow lake with max depth of around 20ft. This swim I focused on forcing myself to breathe to my weak side when swimming freestyle (left side for me). I made good progress by the end of the swim with that. At one point I was able to settle into a nice rhythm for the triple stroke (three strokes with your head underwater versus 2, which means you are breathing on opposite sides each time.) I have to slow down some because I am underwater longer which means you have to keep your heart rate lower. I was spotted by my beautiful wife Virginia and son Asher in a canoe. On the paddle back we were surprised by coming within 20ft of a loon and its baby. Quite a sight. For those considering jumping into the open water swimming arena, this is a great lake to start with.
#2 Asher: Raquette River Saranac Lake. Water Temp 71. Air Temp 75.
Asher decided to jump off the pontoon boat while our family was getting a tour from our Uncle Neil and Cousin Colin of the beautiful Raquette River, and swim to shore. He said afterwards he was scared and didn't think he could complete it. While swimming we encouraged him, told him to focus and relax. He completed the swim 100 meter swim unscathed.
#3 Twitchell Lake. 7/25/21 Air Temp 76 Water Temp 68
Twitchell lake is my favorite Adirondack Lake. It's isolated, private, majestic and former home of the famous Anne LaBastille, the author of The Woodswoman. I was spotted by my beautiful wife and pioneer Virginia and accompanied by my cousin Marshall and his girlfriend Shawna. This was a special swim for me as it was the day after Marshalls father (my uncle Jamie) funeral. We got to spend a half day in the sun, in nature, and together. The conditions for the first half mile out were spectacular. I swam within a few yards of a loon which was pretty cool being on their level. My knee bumped into a sandbar that was out approx. 100 meters from shore which was surprising and ran into a few patches of seaweed. The most difficult part of this swim was immediately upon turning around I was shocked at how windy it was, how strong the current was (going the opposite way), and wavy it was. My strategy had to change quite a bit to get back the half mile. I switched my strokes to exclusively to breast stroke and freestyle. I noticed the longer I stayed underwater the faster I was and not getting hit by the waves. My breast strokes were strong and lengthy and my freestyle switched to a triple stroke (3 strokes per breath, alternating breathing on both sides). I hit a rough patch mentally around 7 tenths of a mile in, my body temp was dropping and I was frustrated as I felt I was making no progress to the finish line. I asked Virginia at one point how much farther. She said " just keep swimming, you are moving fast." That was all I needed. My time was a bit slower but expected due to the current. Once I finished it took me approx. 30 minutes to warm up. The interesting thing is the water feels great to "play swim" in but spending a considerable amount of time in it, definitely plays a role in the experience. Out of my first three swims, this was my hardest.
*Note: This was my first swim using my new swim buoy by New Wave. This tool is amazing, never once got in the way of a stroke and provides much more safety for being seen by boaters. I actually forgot it was attached to me, I highly recommend*
#3 Asher Lake Flower Saranac Lake. Water Temp 60 degrees. Air temp 65.
Asher was paddle boating with his mom Virginia, and his Grandma and Grandpa Bonnie and Chris, Aunt Jessie and myself. It was a chilly morning, approx. 7:30 AM. After a 1 mile paddle, amongst the clouds and wind Asher jumped off the boat and swam to shore unassisted. Approx. 100 meters. He got caught up in some seaweed but that did not affect his focus, he pushed through and completed his swim. He said afterwards he feels like a Navy Seal.
#4 Limekiln Lake, Inlet NY 7/31/21 Air Temp 63 Water Temp 65
Asher, Virginia and I decided last minute to do a 2 night camping trip to Limekiln lake. One of the nights the temperature got into the high 40's, chilly!!! I will say, getting motivated for this swim was tough. I slept poorly the night before and the air temp was chilly. Its much easier to jump into the water when its 75+ out, but 63 was nasty. Overall the swim went well, no strong currents or wind. Asher joined me for his open water swim the last 100 meters. This was my coldest swim thus far, as far as recovery goes. I spent 20 minutes in a hot shower afterwards which finally stopped the shaking. I am feeling smoother and more relaxed in the water. My aerobic capacity (ability to breath and keep heart rate down) is no problem on these swims. So far it has come down to having good technique swimming and ignoring the cold as it sets in. I was spotted by Asher and Virginia. As the afternoon went on and the temps got colder, I looked out onto the lake and I saw a female swimming with her swim buoy. From what I saw she had swam 800+ meters. It was a nice reminder that there are others that enjoy the challenge. Her swim had to have been 3+ air degrees colder and she didn't have a spotter. Brave and strong for sure.
#4 Asher: Limekiln Lake, Inlet NY 7/31/21 Air Temp 63 Water Temp 65.
Asher did a great job swimming approx. 100 yards joining me on the last link of my swim. He got a new fitted life jacket which he tried out for the first time and loved it. He also got quite chilly during/after his swim and joined me for a hot shower which was full of giggles and happiness.
#5 Nicks Lake Old Forge 8/21/21 Air Temp: 78 Water Temp: Warm
Swam with Bob Galinski and spotted by my wife Virginia. Beautiful warm day, very calm water. Smooth swim which felt great. Was awesome having a swimming partner in the water with me. Congrats to Bob for completing his first of the 47 Laker Challenge. I rotated freestyle breathing on both sides, breast stroke and side stroke. All felt strong. Actual swim time for 1.0 miles was 52 minutes. My phone overheated and turned off and tracked my route to the car after hence the 1.09 and 1:01 time. Water was clear, and very warm.
#5 Asher Newcomb Lake, Newcomb NY 8/15/21 Air Temp: 70 Water Temp: 70
Asher completed his longest swim thus far, 200 meters swimming in rough conditions. The wind and current was stiff but he stayed relaxed as we spotted him to the finish line. This was a very special swim for Asher as he had to hike 5 miles out to the lake first, had a quick lunch, swam, then hiked 5 miles back to the car. 10 miles of hiking, and a 200 meter swim in just 8 hours. We celebrated with a nice ice cream in Long Lake!
#6 Utowana Lake, Blue Mountain NY 8/28/21 Air Temp 71 Water Temp 70
This beautiful 300 acre lake was peaceful, and serene. Its average depth is 12 ft and the lake is narrow at around 200 yards wide. I was spotted by my sister Jessica and a few loons we pasted along the way. My swimming felt strong. I alternated 10 strokes Right side freestyle, breast stroke, Right side stroke, left side stroke and left side freestyle. The approach was easy as it borders Route 28. We found some epic boulders that would make amazing bouldering for the local rock climbers. There were a few isolated boat access only camps which reminded me of the benefits of living in nature, and away from everyday distractions. On the drive up to do the swim I heard a great quote by Joe Rogan; "Earn your comfort everyday." That was exactly what we set out to do and did.
#7 Heart Lake, Lake Placid NY 9/4/21 Air Temp 69 Water Temp 68
This lake has an iconic setting located right in the heart (no pun intended) of the high peaks region. We parked at the Adirondack Loj and walked in from there with the kayak. While the lake is quite small, the setting makes up for it. The water was calm and very clear. Cold was a slight factor towards the end of the swim as the Adirondacks evenings have been getting into the 40's so the water has started to cool down. We didn't start the swim till 4:10 so the sun was lower in the sky. My friend Rick Tice shared this great article with me as we were driving home that evening.
"Mountain climbing is dangerous. Mountain biking is dangerous. Football is dangerous. Skiing is dangerous. Open-water swimming is dangerous. Life is dangerous. Maybe the point of being human is to take necessary precautions and face these challenges deliberately." John Kaag, Outside Magazine
This is my final swim for the 2021 season. I learned a lot and am ready to tackle the 2022 season with the goal of completing 16 swims. I would like to be able to build up to the capacity to swim 2 lakes in one day. I will work on technique and keep the spear sharp this winter in Florida.
#6 Asher Blue Mountain Lake NY 6/27/22 Air Temp 66, Water Temp 68
Asher completed a 200m swim in chilly water and cloudy conditions. He bravely jumped off the row boat and swam to shore. He worked on his freestyle stroke. Much of his family cheered him on as he finished his swim. Asher was the first to complete a swim for 2022
(EDIT) South Lake, Ohio NY 7/27/22 Air Temp 68 Water Temp 68
This was the first open water swim of the season. July was a very busy month on the Farm and in the garden. I was spotted by Jess and wore my new Garmin Swim 2 watch. Having the ability to check my distance and pace was a game changer on this swim. The watch did have a small 2-3 min glitch (which was user error) which is why the distance shows slightly less than 1 mile. I felt very strong with this swim, and utilized the combat swimmers stroke for a portion of it. Beautiful day, beautiful lake, crystal clear, and we got to listen to loons sing almost the entire time.
***Edit 8/29/22, after further reviewing the data on this swim, it was approximately 3000 feet (on google maps, not 5280)) and the watch recorded 16 strokes versus the 1200 on average on a normal mile. The watch must not have calibrated properly. This swim no longer counts towards the 47, it was a good warmup for the regular season. ***
#8 Mason Lake, Indian Lake NY 7/31/22 Air Temp 72, Water Temp 70
Mason lake is a small lake near Indian Lake, with no motorboats but frequent moose sightings. My parents and Jess joined today in kayaks to spot me for a nice swim. I went a bit farther than a mile due to timing my return wrong but felt strong. There was a stiff current on the way out which took more time than expected. Lungs and body felt strong, knees were sore from a long week of training. Utilized a lot of freestyle and breast stroke.
#9 North Lake, Ohio NY, water temp 70, air temp 74 8/7/22
North Lake is a beautiful lake in the southern Adirondacks about 20 minutes east of Kayuta Lake. It is next door from South Lake which was a warm up swim this year. The water was calm, warm and amazing. A golden eagle glided above as Ginny and I made our way down the lake. Ginny was an amazing spotter keeping me in a straight line. Aerobically I felt as though I could have gone 2 miles. I utilized the combat swimmers stroke for 50% of the swim and this felt awesome. I also watched a few videos before the swim on optimizing to a slower stroke rate, longer glide and harder kick (a common open water strategy) I had an empty stomach for this swim as I started around 10:30. I had some Redmond Re-lyte and 90% dark chocolate a few minutes before the swim.
The Adirondacks are a special place, where you forget about the outside world, become 100% present and dialed in with nature.
#10 Lake Placid, Lake Placid NY 8/20/22 Air temp 80, water temp 74
Bright sunny day, was spotted by Ginny and Asher. This was a tougher swim because of the amount of boat traffic on the lake. Alternated all strokes, felt strong, no problems. Beautiful lake and setting.
#7 Asher: Lake Placid, Lake Placid NY air temp 80, water temp 74 8/20/22
Asher completed a 150 yard swim out and back to a dock. He used his life jacket on this swim and never gave up. This was his last swim with a life jacket, he is ready to move forward safely, without one.
#8 Asher: Mirror Lake, Lake Placid NY Air Temp 70, Water temp 74 8/21/22
Asher swam 150 yards without a life jacket for the first time. This was a BIG accomplishment for him. He naturally learned the breast stroke and breathed amazingly well. When he finished he was automatically ready to go again!
#11 Mirror Lake, Lake Placid NY 8/21/22 Air Temp 70, Water temp 74
I completed this swim with Bob Galinski and spotted by Ginny and Asher. This wins the award for best lake to swim in thus far! The lake had an underwater cable to follow which made swimming straight easy and it also had buoys every 25 yards which helped with pace. Bob swam very strong and started to find his groove on the last 1/2 mile. This was the fastest mile I have swam in open water so far, 42:41. The GPS showed 2132 yards swam which is incorrect, it had a glitch with Ashers swim prior to ours. We accurately swam out to the 900 yard mark and swam the exact course back to the beach. The sun was shining, there was lots of swimmers in the water, it was simply awesome.
#12 Raquette Lake, Raquette Lake NY 8/28/22 Air Temp 80, Water Temp 72
This swim was completed with Bob Galinski who is also completing the 47 Laker challenge with me. This was my first, and Bob's first swim solo in a lake, meaning there was not a kayak spotter. We played it safe staying closer to shore and accumulating distance until we hit one mile. We both swim with swim buoys but the fear is boaters that have been drinking alcohol or are blinded by the sun. We will venture farther out in the future on non-motorboat lakes or like normal when we are spotted by a kayak. This swim felt strong as my freestyle stroke is now improving with a breathe every 3 or 4 strokes versus 2. Bobs stroke is improving. One note for the readers is Bob ran the Cranberry Lake loop 50 miles in just over 10 hours the day before, so to say he was fatigued for this swim would be an understatement.
I read up on my swim Garmin watch and dialing in its accuracy, and they gave a few tips I will be implementing. Let the watch calibrate for 1-2 minutes before swimming, keep your watch hand out of the water more often versus swimming breaststroke, consider putting the watch in your swim buoy so it stays out of the water and also wait 30 seconds or so after you are done swimming to stop the watch so it finds the next satellite. (see South Lake swim issue above, watch was not calibrated properly)
#13 Lewey Lake, Indian Lake NY Water temp 70, Air temp 78 9/3/22
Lewey lake is the inlet to Indian Lake, a small 3 ish mile long lake near Speculator NY. It has an amazing public beach and campground, its one of our family favorites. This was a family day at the campground, we cooked out, kayaked and laid in the sun. I swam Lewey lake with my swimming partner Bob Galinski, and spotted by Ginny, Asher, Jess and Bobs cousin, we swam a nice triangle. This lake was fairly shallow but calm waters made for nice swimming. I tweaked my shoulder 3 days prior and did not know if I would be able to swim. I realized soon into the swim that breathing to the right side was not going to happen and breast stroke would be much weaker than normal so I adapted and swam freestyle almost the entire way breathing to the left (weaker) side. I also played with swimming 4 or 6 strokes without breathing, this felt nice and something I want to improve on. Bob's swimming technique is improving quickly as he led the entire swim. Overall a great swim and a great day.
#9 Asher, Lewey Lake, Indian Lake NY 9/3/22 Air Temp 78, Water Temp 70
Asher completed a 301 year swim, without a life jacket, this is by far his farthest swim. He utilized the breast stroke and also dragged a swim buoy behind him, using it just a few times to rest. Asher is getting more confident while also improving his swim capabilities. His courage is inspiring as he started in the middle of the lake jumping in off a rock and swimming to shore. He gets fearful of the fish underneath him but Asher does not let fear stop him. Asher has made a big jump with his mindfulness around healthy eating and exercising this summer. He is more aware and knowledgeable than 90% of adults right now which makes me proud. It's difficult being a child surrounded with crappy food choices while away from home, but Ashers strength with making the right choices is improving everyday. Being successful in ANY area of life comes at a cost and if we can teach Asher that, he will be able to accomplish anything with enough dedication. He is also learning that what Bob and I do regarding our swims comes as a result of a lot of work 7 days a week. I couldnt be happier that he is experiencing and is part of all these adventures and all the amazing things going on at Co-Movement. Ghandis quote said, "be the change you want to see in the world". If as parents we walk the walk, our kids and those around us will follow in our steps.
#14 Sagamore Lake, Inlet NY, Air Temp 72, Water temp (didnt record but colder than most) 9/4/22
Bob Galinski and I completed this swim with no kayak spotter on an overcast day. The swim went smooth with the exception of literally beaching onto a large rock a few hundred yards off shore which scared the sh*t out of us, we simply pushed off and kept swimming but Bob gashed his leg. This lake was colder than most, so I am assuming it is fed by a mountain stream? Bob and I hung out in my car for 30+ minutes afterwards with the heat on to stop shivering. My shoulder was sore the entire swim but this was the final swim of the 2022 season so pushing through some discomfort was worth it.
2022 swim season is complete, 7 total swims completed bringing my total to 14 completed. Bob has completed 5 total. Asher has completed 9 swims. We got a very late start to the season but pushed hard during the month of August and first week of September. Bring on 2023.