7.27.2012

James Jonsson Ends His Bear Lake Swim

James Jonsson at the north end of Bear Lake.

James Jonsson started his ambitious Bear Lake x2 -20 (double length-wise crossing of Bear Lake in under 20 hours) at 7:42pm last night.  The weather was beautiful at the start of the swim and the water was warm (74 degrees) and almost completely flat.  Everyone anticipated a great swim through the night.

Based on weather forecasts, James decided to start at the northern end of the lake (Idaho), swim to the southern end (Utah), and then back to the starting point at the north end in Idaho.  We had a team of four on a kayak and ski boat to support him.

James took his feeds every 45 minutes and had a combination of GU, Powerade and his wife's homemade chicken noodle soup.  I have never really seen James swim up close because we have often swam the same masters and open water events.  His stroke is strong, smooth and fast.

The wind picked up briefly coming from south to north, but quickly died back down.  Occasionally, we saw some lighting way off in the distance to the south and didn't think much about it.


Right before his 5th feed, James stopped and told us that he had pulled a muscle.  The same thing has happened on other swims and he though he might be in trouble.  It was obvious that it was painful to him and he though that it was slowing him down.  From my perspective, he still looked like he was swimming strong and I could not tell a change in his pace, but it was very dark by this time.  He took a feed and started swimming again.

We watched from the support boats as storm clouds began to build up and the amount of lightning increased.  James stopped again before he scheduled feed and told us that the pulled muscle in his groin/leg was getting worse and that it was forcing him to change his stroke and not get a full body rotation.  By this time he was also aware of the lighting in the distance.  James' friend Jeff (also the boat captain) talked to him briefly and, in the end, James decided to end his swim by touching the boat.  By this point he was nearing the halfway point of the first crossing.

I think he was disappointing after training so hard for this swim and he even apologized to me for not finishing.  I felt bad that he wasn't able to finish, but given the circumstances, he made the right decision.   I was happy to be a part of the swim, no matter the outcome.

I was lucky to get to know James a little better and meet his family and also the Peterson family.  What a great bunch of people!  They were so generous and friendly, I really had a great time with them.

I hope James will try this swim again and I hope to be there to support him when he does.

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