Tahoe Nugget #54:
Tahoe 2006 Polar Bear Swim
March 4, 2006
The mid-winter Polar Bear swim is one of the most popular North Tahoe Snow Festival events. This year was no exception. A large crowd showed up at Garwoods Restaurant today to watch 20 intrepid souls (men &
women) swim 100 yards out and back again in the frigid waters of Lake Tahoe.
A cold breeze chilled the crowd as we waited for the daring swimmers to arrive. An officer aboard the Coast Guard patrol boat that
was on safety duty announced that the water temperature was 37.9 degrees (2 degrees colder than last year). The information gave everyone the shivers. The women swim first, while the men wait for their turn.
Standing on the snowy beach, in a stiff wind, wearing nothing but a bathing suit tested the determination of the guys, but no one chickened out. Too much peer pressure at that point.
History: The first
person to swim across Lake Tahoe, the largest Alpine lake in the United States, was Myrtle Huddleston, who accomplished the feat in August 1931. Her story will be covered in a Tahoe Nugget this summer. The current
record for swimming the length of Lake Tahoe is held by Ken Harmon, who swam from Camp Richardson (south shore) to Incline Village (north shore) in a time of 11 hours, 23 minutes, 5 seconds, a 22-mile excursion that
marked the longest possible route across Lake Tahoe, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Harmon, a 45-year old from Danville, California, did the swim in August 2005 to help raise money for a new community pool in
Photo #1: Women enter the water.
Photo #2: Women swim beyond pier to turn-around point. Coast Guard is prepared to rescue.
Photo #3: One male swimmer gave a helping hand to several of the
exhausted women swimmers.
Photo #4: Start of men's race.
Photo #5: In typical Tahoe fashion, one contestant wore a duct tape swimsuit.
Photo #6: This guy arrived late and swam by himself, doing the
butterfly stroke the whole way.