Lafayette man swims length of Lake Tahoe
August 22, 2006
On Saturday, Aug. 4, 48-year-old Tom Linthicum of Lafayette, Calif., became the 12th person to successfully swim the length of Lake Tahoe.
Linthicum started his swim at 4:11 a.m. and finished at 8:40 p.m.
“The sun came up and the sun went down and I kept swimming,” Linthicum said.
The swim was Linthicum’s second attempt at swimming the length of Big Blue. On Sept. 30 of last year Linthicum made his first attempt, which he said he thought was one of the only autumn attempts at crossing the lake.
For good reason, as Linthicum made it about two-thirds of the way before having to exit because the water was too cold.
Linthicum is a pure open water swimmer, meaning he wears no wetsuit.
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While many swimmers use the cross-Tahoe trek as a philanthropic tool, Linthicum wasn’t raising money for anything.
However, he said his handicapped daughter gave him strength through the swim.
According to Linthicum, his daughter, Emily, was having seizures the day before his swim and called him. He told her he was going to complete the swim for her, so that maybe she would be seizure free.
Linthicum said as he was swimming one of his support crew held up a sign that said “Do it for Emily,” and he told himself to make every stroke count.
In 16.5 hours of swimming, Linthicum estimated that he took about 59,400 strokes to cross the lake, and he did make every one count.
He said his daughter was seizure free for the next couple days, which made Linthicum feel like his cause had been a success.
Linthicum said that the hardest part of the swim was at about hour 10 or 12, when he got tired and took a “mental vacation,” in addition his shoulder began to hurt. One of his five-person support crew mixed up some Mountain Dew and crushed Advil, which solved the problem.
As would be expected, Linthicum said that the second half of the 22-mile swim was much slower than the first.
When asked what’s up next for the open water swimmer, Linthicum said he is training for the English Channel.
He said it’s really just a matter of making the time and getting the $10,000 together that it takes to make the world-renowned swim possible.
Linthicum also said there is some debate over whether the English Channel or Lake Tahoe is a harder swim.
He said until he swims both he really can’t take part in that debate.
At 6,000 feet in elevation, more than 20 miles in length and frigidly cold, Tahoe is not a swim for slouches.
But Linthicum said that difficult moments are just that, moments, and you only have to endure them for the moment.
According to Linthicum, those tough moments are easier to handle in a place like Tahoe.
“I got a lot of strength from the lake,” Linthicum said. “It’s a beautiful place.”
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