The second time, at swim camp…

It’s no hyperbole, just a simple statement of fact, that Jamie Patrick‘s Swim Camp last year changed the course of my life. I returned this year for the “Lake Tahoe Edition” for several reasons, most important of which was to honor the 2012 edition, and the man who organized it, for introducing me to a beautiful new friend.

My very first pair of FINIS Agility paddles


Photo by Lynn K.

This year’s swim camp was a hoot, albeit a different sort of hoot. Which was, naturally, a function of both different people and a different environment. Like last year, “swim camp” was a bit of a misnomer. “Camp for people who swim” would be more accurate.

Among this year’s highlights was a swim in Emerald Bay and around its island (the only one in Tahoe, known as Fannette). It couldn’t have been more perfect, save perhaps an earlier jump time to avoid boat traffic. Good lord, what beautiful water, as if from a dream.

emerald bay
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, from the access trail. Unfortunately the boat-hiring tourists like it too.

The island in the middle of the bay (Fannette) has a steep drop-off on all sides, of the sort that usually terrifies me, but for whatever reason Tahoe’s vast depths don’t bother me. No resident apex predators, perhaps?

We also went for a dip in the Truckee River, of which most of the swimmable portion is only inches deep. Nonetheless, a hoot.

Tahoe is a profoundly special place, more than any freshwater lake I’ve experienced, and I can understand the protectiveness. I hope to return soon.

Photo by Lynn K.
Photo by Lynn K.

Thank you, Jamie, for your generosity, hospitality, good cheer… and the FINIS Agility paddles, which continue to enrich my life.


Reports from other campers:

Delicious craft beer provided by Phil Cutti, co-founder of Headlands Brewing Company.

This one time, at swim camp…

This past weekend Jamie Patrick hosted 50-some-odd swimmers, spouses, children, and pets at his vacation cottage in Lake County, north of Napa Valley. While the majority of guests hailed from the nearby Bay Area, others journeyed from more far-flung locations: Darren from Pittsburgh, Michelle from Florida, Bob from Portland, and Gords & Goody from Utah.

The event was nominally a Swim Camp¬†– and indeed, many of the campers have big plans this season: the English Channel for Gords and Jen; Catalina for Goody; Tsugaru for Darren; Paul’s¬†insane Sea of Cortez swim; and of course Jamie’s own circumnavigation of Tahoe.

But even before rumors of a mysterious itch-inducing substance in the lake, I had no ambitious training plans. I was more interested in the people and conversation Рmaking new friends and re-connecting with old ones. I executed reasonably well on this goal.

Jamie's cottage. Photo credit: Jamie Patrick

Friday morning we caravan-ed to nearby Clear Lake, which offered cooler waters and more room to roam. The previous evening, Jen and I discovered we have a pretty good tandem-swimming rhythm together, so we partnered up for the morning.

After some initial chaos and confusion (nobody had any idea where we were going), our group – Jen, myself, Steve Munatones, Lexie, and Paul Lundgren – settled into a comfortable groove. We swam about 5km in one direction in 1hr15min. Then the pontoon boat (piloted alternately by Jamie, Vito, and Vito’s unbearably obnoxious dog Luigi) instructed us to turn around and swim back.

It was a glorious swim. Jen and I swam stroke-for-stroke, often for 20-30 minutes at a time without pausing. Such great fun! I’ve never experienced a more refreshing 10K in my life. Despite two hours of sleep the previous night, I was neither tired nor sore at the end. I think I could have swum all day.

Jen and me after the Clear Lake swim. Photo credit: Lynn K.

The morning didn’t go quite so smoothly for some. One trio of swimmers got left behind at the far end of the lake, without access to nutrition. They ended up hitchhiking back to the marina. I’ll let Gords and Goody tell that story. In the end, everyone was safe and (I hope) lessons were learned.

Aside from the Clear Lake swim, my total training for the weekend included a single 1.2-mile lap of Jamie’s lake Thursday evening, another lap Saturday morning with Cathy, and a clothing-optional out-and-back group swim Thursday night. Like I said – I wasn’t really there for training.

Sunday morning seemed to arrive too soon, and it was time for Rob and me to head back down the coast to our respective homes. It was a long drive, but all the good memories swirling about seemed to compress the miles.

Happy campers. Photo credit: Jamie Patrick

Jamie Patrick, if you are reading this: Thanks for opening your home to us, and organizing this ridiculously fun weekend. You are one classy dude.

Until next year!

Putting on my happy face. Photo by Rob D.