Lake Berryessa is a great place to enjoy a restful weekend: a dip in the lake, a leisurely paddle around a cove, and casual wildlife watching are commonplace along its shores in the spring and summer.
However, a group of swimmers from Davis and beyond have no intention of leisurely enjoying Berryessa on May 23, 2011—they plan to swim its entire length in an effort to raise funds for Putah Creek Council.
“I was touched by the idea that a local group wanted to raise funds to further Putah Creek Council’s education efforts, and I wanted to join them in a show of support,” Libby Earthman, Executive Director of Putah Creek Council laughed. “It took a while to set in, but I finally realized that they don’t intend to swim a few miles across Berryessa, they are swimming the length of it! I was floored. Berryessa is 16 miles long, almost as long as swimming the English Channel.”
The event, called the 2011 Trans-Berryessa Swim, is the brain child of two Davis locals: Emily Evans and Paul Landes. “To our knowledge no one has swum the entire length of Lake Berryessa. Emily has been making regular treks to Lake Berryessa for around five years now and it has become a regular staple in her life. She used Lake Berryessa as a training ground for her 21-mile Catalina Channel swims,” said Paul Landes, co-organizer.
Evans and Landes, who saw an opportunity to spend a day with their friends doing what they truly love realized that they could leverage their enthusiasm for swimming and the local environment to raise funds for a worthwhile cause.
Throughout the winter months Evans and Landes swam at the lake even though the water temperature had dipped below 50 degrees. During this period the lake was void of boats and most activities and the wildlife was plentiful. Eagles, deer, otters, falcons and other creatures were spotted on a regular basis.
“Rarely did a swim day go by when we weren’t amazed and fascinated by the abundance of wildlife in the area. We searched around for a non-profit group that was dedicated to preserving the habitat of the area and our search quickly led to Putah Creek Council,” explained Evans.
Landes and Evans began to invite their friends to participate in the swim even though they doubted anyone else would participate. Word began to spread and now there are nearly 30 people who will make the swim—some as individuals, some as part of a relay team. Swimmers are making the trip from Southern California and all areas in between for this event.
Each swimmer will have a support boat to assist in eating and drinking along the way and to keep an eye out for the safety of the swimmer. No wet suits will be used during the swim.
“We are delighted with how well this is turning out, both in terms of the number of swimmers and the success we are already seeing with our fund raising efforts,” said Landes.
If you would like to support this group of swimmers and Putah Creek Council, please see the online contribution page to make a secure donation.