Australian to swim across Lake Tahoe to raise money for wildlife impacted by bushfire

Hannah Jones
This summer Jesse O’Hara is plannign to swim the 21 miles across Lake Tahoe to raise money for Australiian wildlife effected by the bushfires.
Jesse O’Hara

In an effort to raise money for the wildlife affected by the Australian bushfires, Jesse O’Hara, an Australian native, said he will attempt to swim the 21 miles across the lake in July.

Despite living in Australia, O’Hara and his wife visit Lake Tahoe every year, as his wife is from the Bay Area.

“I’ve often looked at the lake and just been captured by its glory and have always felt compelled to swim across it,” he said. “After the bushfire crisis in Australia I felt like I needed to help raise some awareness and help raise some funds for the rebuild and rehabilitation of our animals,” he said.

Though O’Hara has only swam a distance of about half of Lake Tahoe, he said he has wanted to complete a challenge like this for a long time. The funds from O’Hara’s campaign will be sent to the World Wildlife Fund to care for injured wildlife and help restore their habitats that were burned in the fires.

“It’s quite a unique project,” he said.

According to reports from Australian Wildfire officials, the fires have burned over 12.35 million acres of land with at least 24 people killed and more than 2,000 homes destroyed. In January, Chris Dickman, an ecology expert from the University of Sydney, projected that more than 1 billion animals had died in the fires.

O’Hara said he plans to attempt the swim — from Hyatt Beach on the north shore to Camp Richardson on the south shore — the last week of July. However, he said he is still in need of a volunteer with a boat to help with the swim.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for O’Hara’s campaign. So far he has raised $1,750 out of his $5,000 goal.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or

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