Swim across Lake Tahoe, Twice!

FINIS Athlete Jamie Patrick recently completed the first Double-Crossing of Lake Tahoe. Jamie is an avid openwater swimmer and triathlete. A short list of his accomplishments include:

  • 15 Time Ironman Finisher
  • 4 Time Ironman Swim Champion
  • 2 Time Ultraman World Championship Finisher
  • 1st Place – Ultraman Swim, 2003
  • 1st Place – Triple Ironman Swim, 2005
  • 3rd Place  – Triple Ironman Overall, 2005
  • 100+Triathlons and 75+Open Water Swim Competitions

The following is an interview with Jamie after his accomplishment:

  1. Congratulations on becoming the first to swim Lake Tahoe two times – 44 miles.  Tell us a bit about your training leading up to this historic swim.

    Well it has been a long journey.  I began training for my swim about six months ago. I logged in approximately 1.2 million yards in preparation or 725 miles.  Most of my swimming was done in a 25 yard pool due to its accessibility. On the weekends I tried to get in a long lake swim.  I think I have swum every major lake within the Bay Area.  By putting in this much time in the water, it was essential that I maintained a proper stroke

  3. Mentally swimming 44 miles must have been extremely difficult. How did you prepare?

    My main goal in preparing for this swim was to be consistent. To set a plan and follow it. I created milestone training swims to build confidence. I swam six days a week and built my yardage week after week. My longest week was 85,000 yards. My training partner, Greg Larson, and I did some amazing training swims together. We called them adventure swims. From crossing Clear Lake, Lake Berryessa, Lake Del Valle, Lake Tahoe and an 18-mile swim down the Sacramento River.  I also worked with sports psychologist Paige Dunn (www.xcelsportsgroup.com). Overcoming fear and embracing it was our main focus.  Using this fear and creating something positive out of it ultimately lead to my success.

  5. 3.Describe some of your favorite workouts?

    Well, I prefer to swim in a 50 meter pool, but access was limited do to timing and availability.  When I was able to get in a 50 meter pool, I loved to do ladder swims (100, 200, 300, 400, …., 1400, 1500) = 12,000 meters total. I could do this in about 3 hours. On the weekends I would train in a variety of lakes.  My favorite was Hidden Valley Lake, above Napa. I would set out my nutrition on the dock and swim loops around they lake.  Each loop is 1.1 miles.  I would swim 10 loops.  Variety was the key.

  7. You are one of FINIS’ Athletes.  Tell us about what products you used during your training.

  8. I consider FINIS as one of the leaders in innovation when it comes to products that can truly assist swimmers in there strive to become better.  This is not only for the elite swimmer but also for those who are just getting started.  I am a firm believer that efficiency in the water is by far the most important aspect in improving.  I see people in the pool on a daily basis swimming as hard and fast as they can with no desire to work on their stroke.  Technique is very important when swimming ultra distances.  By improving such things as distance per stroke, body roll, and head position you can reduce effort and increase economy.  I used a variety of products made by FINIS to not only help accomplish the first ever double crossing of Lake Tahoe, but become a better overall swimmer.

    Here are some of the products I used during my training.

    SwiMP3 – WOW.  Ok this product might not be the best during coached workouts, but let me tell you, it got me through some of my longest training days.  When I first received the SwiMP3 I could not wait to get in the water.  I loaded it with all my favorite songs and I am not embarrassed to admit that I put a Justin Bieber song on it.  The SwiMP3 does not work like a normal mp3 player.  It works on a bone conduction audio transmission system.  By strapping it to you FINIS goggles and placing it on the bone next to your ear, the sound that is amplified underwater is amazing.  To me, this is one of the greatest products out there.

    Swimmer Snorkel – When I received this product I said to myself, “There is no way I am going down to the pool and wearing this thing.”  Then one early morning I was getting ready to jump in the pool and I saw it in my FINIS swim bag, so I told myself to give it a try. As I swam a few laps I began to notice something different. I normally breathe to my left side and have a hitch in my hips when I breathe.  When using the snorkel, my body roll was more even.  I swam with the snorkel for another 30 minutes and then took it off.  I noticed that my hitch was not as predominate. From this day forward I use the snorkel during every workout.  It has improved my stroke and evened out my body roll.  Love it!!!

    Zoomers – People think by using Zoomers they are ultimately working on speed.  The reality is the fins also aided in building my muscle strength.  The most efficient swimmers ride high in the water.  Their chest acts like a plane created much like a speed boat. I used Zoomers in every workout.  I even did one 10,000 yard workout entirely with my Zoomers on.  By creating a higher body position I was able relax more on the recovery part of my arm stroke.  This leads to more efficiency and increased economy.  Economy is not talked about much in swimming.  It is referred to mostly in cycling.  It is the ability to do a certain amount of work using the smallest amount of energy as possible.  To me, swimming up to 25 hours, increasing my economy is vital.  By riding higher in the water and being able to relax more on my recovery I was able to expend less energy therefore able to go longer.

    Tech Toc – Ok, this product took me awhile to get used to.  The Tech Toc is an audible hip rotation tool.  The first time I strapped this thing on my hips and began swimming, I simply could not understand it.  Inside the Tech Toc is a ball bearing that makes a noise when the hips are fully rotated properly.  The idea is that when you reach the point where the hips rotate to the correct degree, the device makes a noise.  Well this was not happening for me.  Frustrated I took it off.  I continued with my workout.  A few minutes later I realized that it was not the device, it was me!  I put it back on and tried again.  As I experimented with my stroke, I began to swim and engage my core.  My body began to rotate with more fluid motion, and I began to hear the rhythmic clicking.  I noticed myself extending my stroke and straightening out my body.  This tool became a staple in my warm ups, almost like a chiropractor aligning you body.

    Energy Goggles – In my 32 years of swimming I have never used a better goggle.  I prefer a soft frame goggle over a hard frame.  Especially when they are on you face for 25 hours.  What is truly amazing to me is the fact that I wore the same goggle for my entire swim.  My fear was that a film would build up causing the goggle to fog. I am happy to say that I swam with the same pair of goggles the entire swim.  Unlike many goggles, the FINIS Energy goggle has an incredible range of viewing.  This is very important in open water swimming.  This goggle is by far the best for navigating in the open water.

    All in all, the products I used in preparing for my swim were truly amazing, and I thank FINIS for their support.  I have been asked by other swim product companies to use their gear, but the reality is that FINIS has the best, well thought out, training products on the market.  I feel very luck and proud to use their products.


  9. 5. What is next?

    My original plan was to use this double crossing as preparation for next years triple crossing – 66 miles.  After much consideration, I have decided not to go back to Tahoe.  I feel that I have conquered Lake Tahoe and want to do something new.  I am considering being the first to swim from Africa to Italy.  This swim is 88 miles of open-ocean.  Ironically it is exactly double my Lake Tahoe swim.  Logistically it is a very tough swim.  The starting point would be in Tunisia, Africa.  Tunisia is an Arabic country and has issues with international water access.  Bringing a boat in and out of these waters could be a bit difficult.  I am working with the U.S. Consulate to see if I can get some assistance.  Stay Tuned.

  11. 6. Where can people read about you double crossing of Lake Tahoe and your future endeavors?

    They can read all about my swim at http://jamiep.yardbarker.com