Jackson Hole Adventure Report – Training, experience and 21.5 miles of Endurance Swimming across the 7 Lakes of Grand Teton National Park in the Lake to Lake-Link 2020

Jackson Hole Adventure Report – Training, experience and 21.5 miles of Endurance Swimming across the 7 Lakes of Grand Teton National Park in the Lake to Lake-Link 2020

Making the impossible, possible

Two years ago Tim Walther tested another theory of making the impossible, possible.  Having only swum a distance of 1.5 miles at once, he decided to more than 10X the distance by swimming the seven prominent lakes in Grand Teton National Park over a weekend. He estimated the feat would involve 20 miles of swimming while traveling 20 miles on foot in between.  What transpired over the days of August 24-26, 2018 was a story of grit, determination, and overcoming obstacles.   Hypothermic temperatures, wind, currents, and exhaustion all contributed to the difficulties which can be seen in the recap blog video and behind the scenes story here:  Tim Walther Book. 

Torekov Sweden SwimRun make an Impact

A year later Walther traveled to Sweden to participate in two swimming events, the Torekov SwimRun, and Open Water races across the North Sea.  The experience provided a new perspective on how people in Europe approach SwimRuns, and he met a man named Valter Olander, the winner of the Torekov SwimRun, who introduced him to specialty SwimRun fins and techniques for swimming.  A year later he decided to test the new strategies for swimming while combining several additional elements for another Lake to Lake-Link attempt. 

New Team and Strategy 

Walther joined forces with friend Damir Akhmadiyev, a world champion Spartan Obstacle Course racer, whose calendar was freed up due to the cancellation of 2020 Spartan Races because of the Covid-19 Pandemic.   The duo began training in June with a combination of lake swims and even up-river swimming in the nearby Gros Ventre River.  The two also began implementing Damir’s training, nutrition, and recovery strategies as part of the overall plan.  Tw0 other major parts of the plan involved changing the timing and direction of the swim.  They would make the attempts 2 weeks early, when the water temperatures are warmer and instead of traveling North to South and tackling the 13.5 mile Jackson Lake first, they would save this lake until last with hopes of swimming with the wind in their favor. Warmer temperatures and the early season attempt would also allow the two to swim under the full moon twice. 

The RESULT 

Successful completion of the 2020 Lake to Lake-Link 2020 took 34 hours,  half the time of the previous 2018 Lake to Lake-Link swim. 

 

 

 

 

 

On August 4th and 5th, Akhmadiyev and Walther traveled 36 Miles with 21.5 miles of swimming across the 7 lakes and traveling 14.5 miles on foot in between with 2500 feet of elevation gain. Their route was tracked using Garmin GPS watches and began under the full moon at 2:30 am, finishing at 12:30 pm the following day. 

View the google map of the route by clicking here or the image of the map. 

 
Adventure Highlights: Day 1

Full moon swims and launching off the 30 foot jumping rock on Phelps Lake.

Mirror-like conditions for sunrise swims across Taggart and Bradley Lakes.

Beautiful Valley Trail runs greeted by Elk and Bear along the way. 

Smooth swims across String, Leigh and Jenny Lakes

Crossing Moran Bay in variable windy conditions 

Adventure Highlights: Day 2

The crew departed under the full moon at 4 AM to swim the West Coast of Jackson Lake  

A Grizzly Bear chased one of the support crew out of camp!

Swimming into foot high rolling waves for 7.5 miles down the West coast requiring a determined effort.

Whitecap conditions on the final bay crossing required waiting. 

Favorable conditions for the final 3.5 miles to the finish at Lizard Creek.  

Reflections 

“The entire experience was magical beyond belief. It was such a different experience I had from my battle two years ago. We felt great the entire time, enjoying the experience and each other’s company while laughing and joking throughout. The nutrition and hydration plan by Damir that we followed during training and the event was critical to our success. Of course, all the training made it all possible,” Walther said. 

Near the end, Damirs friend Sobi Nagi on the support crew asked the two “Why” they were doing this.   Damir responded with an amusing demeanor,  “The chance to eat snickers and drink some whiskey at the end makes it all worthwhile.”   

Walther, contemplating the adventure experience, reflected, “The why to me is threefold: 1. The overall experience. 2. The personal challenge, growth, and learning, and 3. The sharing of the experience with others to inspire people to create, experience, and live their own adventures.”

Applications to the Covid-19 Pandemic

Walther likened the challenge to the current situation many of his clients and people around the world are facing due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.  “People and businesses around the world are facing new difficulties and uncertainty. The adventure experience parallels the necessity to reinvent ourselves and businesses to successfully navigate the unknown.  Training ourselves is critical to developing new skills, as is the hyper-focus on remaining engaged in the task at hand and remaining optimistic as we experiment with new business processes. We are all in this new adventure together,” Walther said.  

Summary 

The team contributed the following to the success of the 2020 Lake to Lake-Link, summarized by Walther: 

Experience: Nothing substitutes having the experience of swimming for hours on end, like swimming for hours on end.  The 2018 Lake to Lake-Link provided perspective on what worked and what I knew we wanted to avoid. 

Training: Absolutely key to success. I liken the process to the training required in navigating the Covid-19 pandemic. You have to be creative, determined, focused and create new experiences to increase the capacity. 

Nutrition and Hydration: New methods unleashed boundless energy providing for an enjoyable experience.

Gear: Orca RS1 Swim Run & Open Water Wetsuits were amazing and highly recommended. The new SwimRun fins from Sweden which were a game-changer.

Mind-set & Psychology: Grand Dynamics leadership methods to remain engaged, focused, and optimistic were paramount.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

THANK YOU to those who followed us and for being a part of these wild and fun adventures. And a huge thanks to our amazing support crew including Dave Craig, Marshall White, Grand Dynamics Intern Gabe Walls, and Sobi Nagy.  Huge thank yous the Orca team #orcasportswear,  our friend in Sweden Valter Olander with his cool SwimRun Fins, Tony Mendez of the Village Gardener for lending the spot tracking device, Scotty McGee for the use of his canoe and of course Grand Dynamics International for the psychology and mindset for adventure experiences.

Thank you for reading and your interest in adventure and creating Grand Dynamics in your own work and life. 

Live Your Adventure!

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