James Jonsson to Attempt the Length of Bear Lake This Week

James Jonsson, open water chair for Utah Masters Swimming, will be attempting to swim the 19 plus mile length of Bear Lake this Thursday.  He will not only be going for distance, he also has a goal to swim fast.  Having seen James swim in Masters meets and in the Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim, he will undoubtedly set the bar very high for those who choose to test their endurance after him.

It seems that Bear Lake is becoming the "English Channel of the West" and is growing in popularity with marathon swimmers looking to test their endurance.  In the past year or so there were two successful crossings by Neal Phelps and John Quackenbush (Neal wore a wetsuit and snorkel in his crossing and John swam following channel swimming rules).  James Jonsson will be the third person to attempt the swim with another attempt by my friend Gordon Gridley later this summer.  I am hoping to make an attempt myself in the next couple of years.  As the popularity of swimming across Bear Lake increases and more swimmers attempt the swim, there ought to be a "Bear Lake Swimming Federation" to keep an official record book of everyone who attempts and successfully crosses the lake.

We wish James the best of luck with his swim this Thursday and anxiously wait to hear how he does.


Gords said...

Go James! Good luck.

Binza said...

Good luck James.

Josh - the federation idea is excellent. in the meantime, maybe there could simply be a log book somewhere (on this site?) that notes the results of crossings such as this.

Josh said...

Yeah, I will keep an informal list of people who complete the swim and their times on this website (or maybe set up a separate website).

If more people start tying to do the swim, it would be cool to have an official organization to oversee it. There could be someone from the organization who rides on the boat to take an official time and make sure that channel swimming rules are being followed. There could be a certificate or something for those who finish the swim.

Unknown said...

You guys are amazing. I would be lucky if I could run 19miles!!!

Heidelweiss said...

The Swimming Federation would be a great idea. There could be the normal crossings and "unorthodox crossings" (for wetsuit wearers) just like in the Channel. You'd also need a restaurant or something whose walls swimmers could write their names on, kind of like the White Horse Pub in Dover ;). I'm actually not kidding.

Josh said...

Rory - I'm not quite to that level yet, but hope to be in the next couple of years.

Heidi - Those are great ideas! I've been getting a lot of feedback on the Swimming Federation today. I will post some of my ideas about it on the blog in the next couple of days. Anyone who wants to contribute their ideas or join me in setting it up is welcome to.

Heidelweiss said...

I'd love to help in any way I can. I'm a newbie to open water so I probably couldn't offer much in the way of info, but I'm a quick learner ;).

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the idea of having a Utah Open water swim web-site for all to see, where Utah State individual swimming achievements can be documented. However, for the sake of insuring a trustworthy site, which all can rely on (as factual), it is my opinion important to use only the facts which can be (and should be) substantiated. Please let me re-clarify for the record, that I did not use fins in my, successful swim of the Bear Lake, as stated at your web-site (an important point for those who are long distance swimmers). I did use a mask and snorkel, and a 2mm triathlon (farmer John) wetsuit. Since I was the first swimmer on record to accomplish the Swim of Bear Lake (north to south), there were no rules to be followed; my attempt was to see if it could be done, to have fun doing it, and of course: “because it was there”! If someone wishes now to place rules on the successful swim of Bear Lake, and start setting records, I wish them the best. I was the first one to accomplish this feat, and that can be my record. My swim was not an attempt to follow a set of rules, simply a personal goal. As for the rest of you, records are made to be broken, right? Have fun!

Neal Phelps

Josh said...


First of all, let me congratulate you on your successful crossing of Bear Lake! I apologize for my mistake regarding the fins. I will go back through my posts and make that correction. If there are other corrections I need to make, please let me know. I am afraid some of my posts may not have given you enough credit for being the first person on record to have crossed Bear Lake.

The website that I am involved in putting together for open water swimming records in Utah will definitely list you as being the first person to make the crossing.

There are several organizations that oversee open water swims and most, if not all, follow channel swimming rules (i.e. only one swimsuit, one cap and goggles) and I was simply trying to follow those same rules. I hope that in doing so I have not detracted from your epic crossing. I plan on posting successful swims throughout the state for those who follow channel swimming rules as well as those who do not.

I would love to hear more about your experience at Bear Lake and post the details for everyone else to read. You can send me your contact information to joshuakgreen@gmail.com if you are interested.

Congrats again on being the first to cross Bear Lake and for inspiring myself and others across the country to make the attempt.