Ned Hastings - Columbia River

Vernita Bridge to Ringold

52.9 km (32.9 miles)

7 hours, 9 minutes on 31 August 2020

Observed and documented by Jennifer Comfort



  • Name: Ned Hastings
  • Gender: male
  • Age on swim date: 55
  • Nationality: United States
  • Resides: Kennewick, Washington

Support Personnel

  • Dan Sullivan - pilot
  • Mel Kulp - feeding
  • Damon Traeger - photography
  • Jennifer Comfort - observer

Escort Vessel: 24 ft. Willie Predator (trailered)

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Swimsuit, cap, goggles, earplugs, lanolin, zinca sunblock, Garmin GPS watch (tracking disabled).

Route Definition

Note: The route is measured from Vernita Bridge (i.e., an in-water point under the bridge) to Ringold boat launch. Do to a misunderstanding of the rules of starting swims, the watch (elapsed time) was started when Ned started swimming from waist-deep water west/upriver from the bridge. So, when Ned crossed under the bridge (starting the swim according to the route definition), the watch had already been running for 1-2 minutes. The official elapsed time includes this “warm-up” swim and thus slightly overstates the true elapsed time.


No known previous swims of this route.

Swim Data

  • Start: 31 August 2020, 11:15 (Pacific Daylight, America/Los_Angeles, UTC-7).
  • Finish: 31 August 2020, 18:24
  • Elapsed: 7 hours, 9 minutes.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (F) 64 65
Air Temp (F) 75 82
Wind (mph) 3 10

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 10 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: UCAN Hydrate and UCAN Energy, every 45 minutes.

Observer Log

Download PDF


The Hanford Reach National Monument swim is a MUST for any adventure swimmer! A 33.5 mile swim downstream in the only free flowing section of the Columbia River in the USA. A wilderness area untouched and preserved for over 80 years. Guaranteed to see wildlife on the shore, and a very good chance to encounter sturgeon, and Chinook Salmon in the water.

With fifteen (plus) feet of visibility, and always changing swim conditions, boredom and monotony does not exist in this swim. The ever changing swim conditions consist of deep water with a brisk flow, shallow water with a brisk flow, mild rapids depending on the water level, and exhilarating shoots. For half of the swim time - corresponding with changing swim conditions, visual contact will be maintained with the ancient gravel and cobble riverbed of the “Mighty” Columbia, along with impressive basalt and clay formations in and out of the water.

This was the first “unassisted” and “documented” swim of the Hanford Reach National Monument (Vernita Bridge – Ringold 33.5 miles). Christopher Swain, an activist swam the entire Columbia River in a “year-plus” time frame wearing a dry suit and fins. He encountered the Hanford Reach National Monument in March/April of 2002.

Living only fifty miles downstream from the Hanford Reach National Monument, in Kennewick WA, I have been dreaming about doing this swim for four years - Ever since I began Open Water Swimming in 2016. The main reason I enjoy Open Water Swimming is the unique connection to nature one feels when swimming in open water. Swimming the Hanford Reach National Monument really allows one to connect with nature in an awesome way! Documenting this swim with the Marathon Swimmers Federation MSF is a no “brainer.” This is a swim - Open Water Swimmers need to know about! And Do!

As a proud Veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, and a concerned USA citizen about the current turmoil of 2020 going on in my country, I wanted to remind people with a video that the USA is a beautiful and great country!

Thank You Team! Pilot - Dan Sullivan of “River West Sport Fishing” is a great guide and fun person. I plan on having him be my pilot for my next swim! Observer – Jennifer Comfort is a triathlete and triathlon coach. Her expertise and enthusiasm was invaluable. Crew – Damon Traeger & Mel Kulp they are my “homies” and it means a lot to have them with me on these adventures. Special thanks goes out to Coast Guardsman Brooks McKeithan from Coast Guard ANT Kennewick WA for greeting me when I finished the swim. What a great experience!


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