Tahoe Support!

I was privileged to be helping a most courageous lady on the 18th August. Robin attempted to swim the length of Lake Tahoe, California in the USA. The swim is 21 miles long at 6,600′ altitude above sea level and the water temperature was a balmy 18/19C.

The swim takes place from the southern shores of Lake Tahoe, to the northern shores with some rather tricky wind conditions. Due to these winds the swim begins at night and finishes the following morning.

After a blessing from some visiting Tibetan monks in the car park by the beach.. What were they doing there? We moved down to the beach.




This traditional ribbon was blessed by the Dalai Lama and the Oracle prior to their departure from Tibet.



We all wanted to stay on the beach and BBQ!

Under the watchful eye of our pilot and first mate fellow open water swimmers, ‘Reptile’ and ‘Mad Dog’, Robin gingerly walked in to the lake at 1815, the sun was warm and the conditions choppy with a westerly wind blowing.

8 7

After negotiating our way out from the small marina, through the jet skies moored on the outer perimeter, we were off. I was kayak support for the first 7-8 hours and then Jack, Robin’s son, a super runner and athlete who was way too fast for me took over for the rest. We found our boat and off we went.

Into the night Robin swam with a strong start, one years training firmly under her belt. The conditions remained tricky well in to the hours of darkness. The wind changed direction a few times causing interesting drift scenarios but Robin plugged on strongly. At approximately the 5 hour mark the crew became aware that she was finding it difficult to keep her feeds down and seemed to be suffering from some nausea. However, she shook it off like a true ‘gladiator’ living up to her swim club name.. ‘Fang’, when again in the early hours she managed to shed a tooth and will thus be visiting that dentist again!

Unfortunately, the nausea continued and we eventually realised that it was more than an upset stomach. Robin had been affected by the altitude. We were 6,600′ above sea level trying to conduct a marathon swim of some 22 miles long and altitude sickness can strike the fittest of people. We had only just become aware as she finally complained of shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing.

Robin had swum 15 of the 22 mile course and was strong when not vomiting. However, after 12 hours the brave decision was made to abandon the swim. Robin had swum her heart out true to character with a gritty performance, humbling all those present. I have absolutely ‘no doubt’ that she will return and conquer Tahoe. Indeed talking to resident experts Reptile and Mad Dog, this is often the case for a swimmer’s first attempt.

Exhausted we returned to the start. The swimmer is somewhere wrapped safely in the sleeping bag below deck.


Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. However, there are always positives and in this case the aim was partially achieved and Robin put in two fabulous swims within three weeks of each other. She successfully completed the width of Tahoe 11 miles and then 15 miles of the length 3 weeks later. we consolidated and proved that the training, strength and endurance is all in place and progressing nicely.

The aim was to complete training swims of at least 18-22 mile in total the year before her English Channel solo in 2016.

Well done Robin.