A final encore for Fremont

© 2018-Pinedale Roundup

FREMONT LAKE – On Sunday, July 30, I completed my third – and final – open-water swim across the 9-mile length of Fremont Lake in 7 hours and 55 minutes.

My previous two completions were on Oct. 1, 2011, in 6 hours and 37 minutes and then again last year on Sept. 10 in 6 hours and 40 minutes.

On Saturday night around 8 p.m., I received a text from Nora Farrand – my invaluable support crew chief – that we were on for Sunday and to meet at the Lower Boat Dock at 6 a.m. That night, I had a restless sleep filled with anxiety.

Sunday morning, I gathered a few supplies – boardshorts, goggles, towel, blanket and sunscreen – and set off.

At the boat dock, I connected with Chase Harber – a new friend I had met recently at Pine Coffee Supply – who had decided on Saturday to join us and kayak beside me. Nora and her husband Dan arrived shortly after with their pontoon boat.

We all boarded the boat and set off for a 9-mile trip to the inlet. I am always sobered by this part of the journey, as I feel how very long the lake is. The skies were clear, and I felt scared but optimistic.

At the inlet, the usual beach was mostly underwater due to the runoff from last winter. The sun began to rise and shine on the west cliffs, and I began the day’s swim. The water was extremely cold, perhaps due to the runoff. I didn’t have a temperature gun, but it felt like high 40s or low 50s. I walked in very slowly to adjust to the cold, observed and moved through my fear, and began to swim.

I started with breaststroke for about 10 minutes to keep my head warm, and as my body adjusted to the cold, I eased into a freestyle stroke and a meditative endurance trance.

In three hours or so, I passed Box Bay on my way to Sylvan Bay. Chase was faithfully kayaking nearby, with Nora and Dan slightly further off in the boat.

When we neared Sylvan Bay, Dan and Nora stopped briefly, and my support crew increased as Chase’s wife Shalesa joined us, along with their three children Elliette, Agnes and Baines.

The final 5 miles felt very long, but I finally glimpsed the wonderful sight of Sandy Beach. A little weather came up briefly – some wind, waves and rain – but in only five or 10 minutes more swimming, I found myself filled with joy to be standing on sand in chest-high water. I paused for a minute to allow my legs to become accustomed to weight again, and slowly walked to shore.

In addition to meeting my sister Meghan, who was visiting from Cheyenne, I was surprised to also see Cody and Maddie Hamilton from Pine Coffee Supply, who had kindly prepared my usual coffee drink and presented it to me in a warm thermos.

My endurance swimming journey began nearly 10 years ago. I was living in Alaska, and when I started, I could only swim for about 20 minutes, even though I rested every length. I would sit at my desk at work, looking at Fremont Lake on Google maps, dreaming that one day I might be able to swim the length.

Now I feel complete with this dream, and ready to create new dreams. I would like to hike much more in the Winds, summit Fremont Peak, cross-country skate-ski race in the Yellowstone Rendezvous, and be open to new possibilities.

I will always love Fremont Lake, and now I hope to join future support crews and assist future swimmers with their dreams.

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