Kellie Latimer - Long Lake two-way
North - South - North
34.8 km (21.6 miles)
11 hours, 52 minutes on 26 September 2020
Observed and documented by Susan Knight
- Name: Kellie Latimer
- Gender: female
- Age on swim date: 34
- Nationality: United States
- Resides: Franklin, Massachusetts
- Susan Knight - observer
- John Gale - crew
- Brad Pearson - primary pilot
- Kristina Pearson - relief pilot
|N/A||Tahoe pontoon||private residence|
- Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
- Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
- Equipment used: Lycra swimsuit (The Finals, pink foil diamond plaid wing-back one piece), swim cap, goggles.
- Body of Water: Long Lake (Harrison/Naples, Maine, USA).
- Route Type: multi-way
- Start and Finish Location: Crystal Lake Park boat launch (Harrison, ME) (44.112753, -70.683405)
- Turnaround Location: Beach in front of Marie’s Kitchen restaurant, adjacent to Long Lake Marina (43.970760, -70.605662)
- Minimum Route Distance: 34.8 km (21.6 miles) (map)
No known previous crossings (one way or more).
- Start: 26 September 2020, 06:50:00 (Eastern Daylight, America/New_York, UTC-4).
- Finish of outbound leg: 26 September 2020, 12:52 (6h2m elapsed). 7 minutes on land before starting second leg.
- Finish: 26 September 2020, 18:42:00
- Elapsed: 11 hours, 52 minutes, 0 seconds.
Summary of Conditions
|Water Temp (F)||63.5||65.8|
|Air Temp (F)||46||76|
Trackpoint frequency: 10 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).
Nutrition: Plan: Swimmer pre-mixed a 2-gallon cooler of liquid feeds. Liquid feeds consisted of 2 scoops CarboPro and one scoop grape Ultima per 20 oz. Drink one half-bottle (~10oz) every 30min. Beginning at 2h elapsed time, supplement with one vanilla bean GU (20mg caffeine) on the hour.
by Kellie Latimer
The idea to swim the length of the lake came from my sister’s wedding in fall of 2019. My brother-in-law’s family has a house on Long Lake in Harrison, and the wedding took place on their property. I stayed in a rental house about a mile down the lake. Early on the morning of the wedding, I swam from the rental house up to the wedding venue and back, because what swimmer could resist that temptation? There was a map of the lake on the wall of the rental house, and I looked it and said ‘huh’. After the wedding I brought up the idea of swimming the length of the lake to my brother-in-law, who said I was welcome to use their pontoon should I decide to go for it. The weather and timing didn’t work out to get it done by the time the boat was out of the water for the winter in 2019, so I put the idea on the back burner.
In February of 2020 I signed up to swim the 25-mile length of Lake Memphremagog, with a window opening just after the 4th of July holiday. This was to be my longest swim to date, surpassing the 25km Border Buster swim I completed in the same lake in 2017. However, with the arrival of COVID in my area in March, and the subsequent closure of pools and general lockdown, I called off my attempt in April.
I spent the spring and summer swimming for fun and for mental health, wherever and whenever I could do so safely. In the pre-covid times, I spent 3 hours commuting every day. I used a lot of that time to swim, when I switched to working from home most of the time. I made some great new friends in the Rhode Island swimming community and explored every nook and cranny of Boston’s Pleasure Bay. By the end of August, I realized the training volume I had worked up to was about where I had expected to peak in my Memphremagog training. I had swum 85km in July and 108km in August, nearly all in open water and all just for the fun of it. I was in great shape and feeling strong, and wanted to explore options for a long swim, if I could do it safely. Long Lake was back on the table.
Assembling a team
It all came together in two weeks’ time. I called my sister on September 12 and asked if she and her husband would be willing to pilot for me if I were to swim the length of the lake. I then asked if they would pilot for me if I were to swim the length of the lake…twice? I wanted to break the 20-mile barrier. They have never participated in a swim like this before, so I laid out the responsibilities and they were on board for an attempt on Sept 26, weather willing. John and Susan were willing to crew and observe, respectively, and I had a team. I booked campsites for John, Susan, and I on nearby Trickey Pond -I preferred camping to an indoor accommodation for covid safety.
Establishing a route
As there are no known documented crossings of the lake, I needed to pick my route. Using Google maps, I located a public boat ramp at the top of the lake, at Crystal Lake Park in Harrison. That was to be my starting and ending point. The south end of the lake is more complicated. There is a causeway where there is a channel into Brandy Pond at the south end of Long Lake. It is a heavily boat-trafficked area, with the town dock, a marina, and the home base of the Songo River Queen, a replica Mississippi River paddle wheeler cruise vessel, all in close proximity. Reaching the causeway itself seemed unnecessarily dangerous, particularly on a Saturday if the weather was nice. Using Google Maps satellite view, I identified a small sandy beach adjacent to the Long Lake Marina on the property of Marie’s Kitchen restaurant. I emailed the restaurant and received permission to make land for my turnaround on their beach. Future crossings could consider safer ways to reach the causeway itself, but as there were no known previous crossings of the lake and therefore no established route, I took this to be the safest way to turn around at the southern end.
I chose to start at the north because that’s closer to where the boat is based. In this case it worked out very well because the wind was forecast to be out of the south in the afternoon. Had the forecast been for wind out of the north, I would have reversed the route and started in the south.
The morning of the swim I was planning to meet everyone at the boat at 5:30 to motor to the start and get in at 6AM. I wound up getting lost on my way to the boat, and we needed to gas up at the marina which opened at 6:00, so I didn’t get started until nearly 7:00. My crew didn’t complain – the gas stop included procurement of breakfast sandwiches and more coffee. I had chosen 6AM start to give myself a good chance of finishing while it was still light out. I came prepared to swim in the dark – there was a backup pair of goggles with a light on the strap in my bag, and glow-sticks to be deployed if it went on too long. I was expecting the swim to take 12.5-13 hours, and longer if it went off the rails.
Just before the start I applied my sunscreen - P20 SPF 50 on top of a base layer of Hawaiian Tropic Sport SPF 30. The air temperature was 46F/7.7C so this was a chilly exercise. There was fog burning off, and the water was flat calm and 64F/17C. I walked off the dock and down to the boat ramp and started swimming (after gracefully stepping on a rock). For the first 90 minutes I could definitely feel the chill of the air on my arms, and the water felt lovely and warm. The kind of flat water where when you see it you just want to glide through it.
After a few hours, the chill was less on the arms, and the chop picked up. It seemed to happen really quickly that it went from flat to bouncy. One consequence of starting an hour later than planned was that the wind was forecast to pick up throughout the day and come from the south, so the end of the first leg would have a headwind. I just kept swimming through it, it was nothing horrible. My crew kept themselves entertained by scoping out all the real estate on the west side of the lake.
I felt pretty strong and steady the first leg – my shoulders got a little tight but nothing out of the ordinary. We were joined for a while before and after the turn by a friend of my dad’s who heard what I was doing and came to witness it himself. It was nice to have company! My longest training swim of the summer had been only 8 miles, so I was a little curious how I would feel passing that mark. I came into the beach to cheers and cowbells from my aunt, uncle, and cousins who live in Naples. John tossed me a drybag with a small towel and my P20, so I could reapply sunscreen. The breeze was chilly, despite the temperature having warmed up, so I got back in the water before my 10 minutes were up so I could keep moving.
As I started my second leg, I got a little grouchy. That had been a long way, and now I had to go back? Whose stupid idea was this? Oh wait, mine. The week before my swim I had crewed for Caroline Block swimming Lake George twice, so I guess I looked at 11 miles on paper and said ‘yeah, I would love to do that two times’. UGH. It wasn’t the total distance that I was annoyed with, it was that I had to swim the SAME eleven miles back to the start. In the first hour of the second leg, I started mentally drafting Facebook posts with all the cute excuses why I hadn’t finished. “oh, it just wasn’t my day after all”. “My elbow was a little achy so I decided to call it after 13 miles” “it was pretty chilly in the morning and I never really warmed up” (omg who would even believe that last one coming from me). I was never actually seriously considering getting out, but I did kill about an hour’s worth of time fantasizing about it. Whatever gets you through, right? I also tried singing ‘99 bottles of beer on the wall’ but I only made it to 93 bottles before I got distracted. One other tactic I tried on the way back was thinking about the remaining distance in terms of other swims I’ve done. 8 miles left… only a Boston Light! …except that swim has a mad current and I don’t have that here. Ok, then it’s like the training swim we did with Guy this summer! But ugh that was such a long day. It went on and on like that. Turns out my internal monologue is insufferable. In the end, the doubling back wasn’t bad at all aside from the mental aspect of actually making the turn. Eventually I realized – I’m not really seeing much but the boat, if I don’t think about it and just keep swimming the 22 miles could be anywhere! My crew also came through with Susan’s collection of silly hats. Silly hats always make you feel better.
I rode the tailwind up the lake. I did get tight in my shoulders and elbows, and took two ibuprofen along the way, which helped. Other than that, I just kept swimming, as they say. I passed my previous distance PR mark at 25k and still felt strong. I watched the sun get closer to the western horizon and realized there was a chance I could finish in daylight – I was ahead of schedule. I wouldn’t beat sunrise, but it would be nice to not need the glowsticks. I just kept swimming. Finally, my crew said I was about a mile and a half out, and we could see the headlights of cars at the boat ramp. I told them I didn’t want another feed and got back to swimming. As I approached, I started sighting too soon. I forced myself to only look up once every 10 strokes, which helped make it seem like it was getting closer. I reached the channel markers ahead of the ramp, and I was coming into the finish. I was greeted by my parents, my sister’s in-laws, and a friend of my mom’s. I dried off and had a little pleasant shiver on the boat on the way back to the house. I did it!
Finishing this swim gives me the solid confidence that I can cover a channel-distance swim in water that was near channel-cold (though not quite). I felt strong, I was on the whole happy (despite the internal whining), and my nutrition didn’t let me down at all. It wasn’t super pre-planned, but I am very happy to have completed it and look forward to using it for mental fortitude for the next long swim I plan
Major thanks again (again again) to Brad, Kristina, John, and Susan for their help!
Click to enlarge.