In the early hours of Monday, May 23, swimmers from Davis, Oakland, Sacramento, and Irvine began what was to be an all-day swim down the length of Lake Berryessa. The lake is sixteen miles long, nearly the length of the English Channel at Dover.
Most swimmers were part of relay teams of two, three, and six people, but a few swam the entire way solo. Each swimmer was accompanied by a boat carrying a tow rope, snacks and water. Swimmers took breaks about every 30 minutes to eat and drink.
Mother Nature smiled on the event, providing ideal conditions for the swimmers who appreciated the flat water, the 68 degree water temperature, the wind at their backs, and very little boater traffic.
They came for the challenge, the peace of nature, the company of good friends, the fun, and also to support Putah Creek Council.
Emily Evans, who co-organized the race with Paul Landes, expressed her love of Lake Berryessa. After swimming here for many years, appreciating the peace, beauty, and wildlife she’s seen, she felt urged to organize an event in support of the lake and the creek. She chose Putah Creek Council as the beneficiary organization because of Putah Creek Council’s commitment to restoration and education in the Putah Creek watershed.
Though official organizing began last December, it takes a lifetime to prepare for an event like this. “The people who swam today are just heroic,” said Davis Aquatic Masters Adult Competition coach, Stu Kahn. He emphasized their commitment to this event, including months of independent training in Berryessa to acclimate themselves to the unique conditions. He also added, “There’s a high level of insanity that goes along with this.”
The weary and wet athletes emerged to a cheering audience, glowing with sincere admiration for the swimmers. The event ended with a low-key awards ceremony, complete with pizza, beer, and classic mugs from a 1994 “open swim” on Berryessa.
It was clearly evident these swimmers were not ego-driven, but rather, compassionate people who gave their very best in support of a cause they believe in.