Bogdan Cosmin Zurbagiu - Lake Bicaz

Bicaz Dam to Piatra Teiului

23.3 km (14.5 miles)

8 hours, 42 minutes on 1 August 2020

Observed and documented by Mirel Micu & Valentin Mocanu

First crossing



Support Personnel

  • Marc Neculai - kayaker, crew
  • Dan Parjolea - kayaer, crew
  • Mirel Micu - observer 1
  • Valentin Mocanu - observer 2
  • Mihai Badea - tandem swimmer (wetsuit)

Observers have been trained by the swimmer to follow the application of Marathon Swimming rules, with no exceptions.). The observers have sport background, they are currently doing cycling and triathlons at amateur level. Also they are both qualified skippers and boat owners. CPR/ First Aid trained.

Escort Vessel: unnamed small-engine boat from Bicaz Dam boat ramp

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: TYR briefs, goggles, silicone cap, zinc oxide cream.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: Lake Bicaz
  • Route Type: one-way
  • Start Location: Bicaz Dam boat ramp (46.94117, 26.11236)
  • Finish Location: Piatra Teiului @ Bistrita River mouth (47.091024, 25.961229)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 23.3 km (14.5 miles) (map)


No documented marathon swims in this body of water.

Swim Data

  • Start: 1 August 2020, 09:20 (Europe/Bucharest, UTC3).
  • Finish: 1 August 2020, 18:02
  • Elapsed: 8 hours, 42 minutes.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 23.1 24.9
Air Temp (C) 17 22
Wind (kph) 10 17

GPS Track

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

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: Iso drinkk + Powerbar gel, every 30 minutes. Occasional protein bar and banana.

Observer Log

Download PDF


What inspired you to do this swim?

It has started with a project to do a number of lakes in Romania and found me and Mihai Badea, my swimming friend and training partner, dreaming and making plans of doing as many as possible marathon swims, to enjoy the benefits of open water swimming, to promote the role of water in people’s lives and keeping waters clean (we also have a motto “Water means life”) and myself performing with support of observers, documenting as per the classic marathon swimming rules, with no exceptions.

Lake Izvorul Muntelui a.k.a. as per the nearby town Bicaz named Lake Bicaz is a renowned accumulation lake in Romania. The natives also call it “the sea between the mountains”. It is located at the feet of Mt Ceahlau, were yearly, at a specific date, there are hundreds of pilgrims gathering for an energetic trip.

I visited the area during a motorcycle trip, years back, when the road around it seemed infinite. At that time I didn’t have the passion of open water swimming and the simple thinking of swimming it, I would have considered crazy.

Lake Bicaz

Please describe how you planned for the swim.

The initial plan did not work out, we were supposed to have a collaboration with a swimming association and days before the event we were still discussing the logistics, with too many – for me; unknown variables.

I was swimming as per marathon swimming classic rules, skins, no assistance a.s.o. Mihai was swimming in wetsuit.

So I asked for help on the internet and found two gentlemen, passionate kayakers, natives who would be willing to assist us. Marc and Dan. To quote Marc “this was their duty of honor” to assist us in the first documented swim of lake Bicaz.

They called themselves “the log drivers on Bistrita river”. Searching on the internet, I found out this was a 2000 years old job on the respective river, since the dacians times. If our readers would like to find out more about this tradition/ job, here you can read (translate to English So we had the kayakers.

I was bringing a tandem kayak from Bucharest. The observers were Mirel and Valentin. Experienced boat captains/ owners on Danube river, sport enthusiast, performing in different triathlon amateur events. Eventually they used a small boat.

Our accommodation was at “Pensiunea la Bunica” (with hyperlink on TripAdvisor), where you can enjoy the nicest view over the lake.

Step by step, the group became larger. Mihai and I had some friends invited. We also had kids with us, so we ended up as a large group (sleeping and eating in different places, due to Covid limitations / availability). I think the only time we got close was for the picture at the start, with part of the group.

At start we were visited by Mr Ion ASAVEI, a local journalist who took us an interview and covered the crossing in local and national media.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

We took the start at the boat ramp, near the Dam, in the company of friends and Mr Asavei from the media.

Bicaz Dam

In the dam area, we had to swim our way for 1 km between wood and some plastic waste, because due to recent rains, the water washed the river shores (which could be better cleaned).

The water was clear, with no specific smell or taste. Just clear green emerald.

Our wives would later follow us during our swim, across the lake, with Radu the drone driver – searching for us at every stop. Because there was limited to no access on the lake, they had to enter uninvited some private properties and got into a funny moment where a property owner did not believe them we were doing this swim, he got on his ski jet and meet us on the lake, to check himself. As we proved right, we were invited later to his place.

The swim went great. At times, we faced opposing current, as we swam against the flow.

Also at mid-day boat traffic started to become noticeable and waves appeared. Once, the waves became that big that one of the kayakers got caught off guard and was overturned by them.

We took breaks intended at around 25-35 minutes, depending on water conditions and our strategy to cross different sides for the shortest route. The standard feeding consisted of iso-drink and gels, and from time to time we got some banana or protein bar or magnesium liquid.

The last part of the swim was a right curve towards the viaduct, which seemed infinite.

When we got near the viaduct, we were initially considering to exit at the viaduct, but the native kayakers told us that the lake finishes at “Piatra Teiului”, few hundred meters past the viaduct. Piatra Teiului is a large stone (like a sky scrape inside a lake), on a beach past the viaduct. Now the beach was flooded by water.

(I think it’s worth mentioning now that the water level variates during the year with about 30 meters – for the purpose of having a repeatable route, we used boat ramp at dam and the Piatra Teiului rock, which is always visible-there).

We immediately agreed to exit at Piatra Teiului, but what surprised us – the rock was not exit friendly - so at a second try I managed to exit the water at the bottom of Piatra Teiului rock.

We then went to the viaduct base, were our families were waiting, cheering and joined them.

We were blessed to swim in that lake, to meet local people who assisted us on kayaks and be joined by friends and family in those lovely places.


Click to enlarge.



  1. Adevarul
  2. Piatra Neamt
  3. Monitorul de Neamt