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The Still Water 8 – The almost famous new marathon swimming challenge.

October 4, 2011

Not to long ago, the Ocean’s 7 marathon swimming challenge was created.  Much like the 7 Summits for climbers, this challenge pushes marathon swimmers to their limits.  However these swims are not the 7 toughest swims on the 7 continents like 7 Summits.   The creator of Ocean’s 7, Steven Munatones, “chose them for their geographic and climatic diversity, extreme hardships and the intricate planning needed to succeed.”  Crazy, yes.  Sick, yes.  A big challenge, absolutely.  

As I was hanging in Tarifa Spain with other swimming friends, it was stated “We should create the Still Water 8.”   Partially it was stated because what’s next when someone conquers the Ocean’s 7.  Also we were joking around as there is so much water to swim, so how could we really set up another challenge.  However, we started to list off some of the most notable still water, aka lake, swims around the world.  We tried to follow Mr. Munatones criteria as best we could just to keep the conversation interesting.  So here they are in no particular order:

  1. Loch Ness – Scotland – Distance: 23 miles/37km.  Temperature: Avg 50f/10C.  Known for its deep black and chilling waters (average 50 degrees).  Many swimmers have been challenged by the inky depths and “Nessie”. 
  2. Lake Windemere – England – Distance: 10.5 miles/16.9km.  Temperature:  No idea – I’m sure my UK friends will enlighten me.  The largest natural lake in England and known for its open water swimming events.
  3. Lake Zurich – Switzerland – Distance: 16.4 miles/26.4km.  Temperature:  66.2 – 75.2F/19-24C.  This lake has an organized race that is recognized the world over. 
  4. Lake Tahoe – USA – Distance: 22 miles/35.4 km.  Temperature: 50 – 58F/10 – 14.4.  Difficult due to temperature and altitude.
  5. Lake Baikal – Russia – Distance: Follow Lynne Cox’s route 7-10 miles/11- 16km.  Or make your own new longer/equal distance route.  Temperature: low 50s F/ 10C.  The world’s oldest and deepest lake according to Wikipedia. Also declared a UNISECO World Heritage Site.  Logistics for organizing this swim could be a challenge.
  6. Lake Taupo – New Zealand – Distance: 21 miles/34 km.  Temperature: 51 – 73F/11 – 23C.  Located on the North Island of New Zealand. Largest lake in New Zealand. 
  7. Lake Ontario – Canada – Distance:  31.5 miles/51km.  Temperatures: variable in a matter of hours due to wind.  50 – 72F/10-22C.  Difficult swim due to unpredictable wind and currents.
  8. Lake Titicaca – Bolivia – Peru – Distance: Temperature:  56-58F/13-14.5C.  Highest lake in the Americas.  Logistics for organization of this swim could be difficult.

Then there is the question of rules of the swim.  Here is how I see it.  Let’s just say there are three categories; wetsuit, non-wetsuit i.e. FINA approved swim suits, and super extreme channel rules of standard swimming costume i.e. speedo for men and no arm or leg coverage for women.  If the swimmer chooses to swim even one of the above swims, assuming anyone takes on the challenge, in a wetsuit they would fall into the wetsuit category.  Likewise if in a FINA approved, they would fall in that category and so on.  Every attempt should be made to start and finish the swims on dry land.  These are lakes so waves, currents, etc should not be as large a limiting factor as in the sea.  

For me personally, I don’t really care how people swim it as long as they are forthcoming or is it forthright (maybe it is both) about how they swam.  Be honest with yourself and the open water swimming community, each category has its challenges, advantages, etc and all can be celebrated for their achievements. 

That’s it –  the Still Water 8.  The new and almost famous marathon swimming challenge.  Cooked up by crazy swimmers over a pint while waiting for the wind to subside in Tarifa Spain.  

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3 Responses to “The Still Water 8 – The almost famous new marathon swimming challenge.”

  1. A pint of beer and a new series created. The way it should be done…You need to make a home brew and call it Still Water 8 🙂

  2. IronMike says:

    Love it! When I saw this in the USMS Swimmer magazine, I realized I found my challenge.

    If you need help getting into Russia for Baikal, let me know. Just finished 3 years of embassy duty there (Moscow) so I might be able to help.

    • Michelle Macy says:

      Hi Mike –

      Good luck on the Stillwater 8. I don’t think anyone has taken up the mantel of this new challenge.

      Happy Swimming.

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