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  • Richard McDonough

Co-Movement Gym: A is A Health Podcast S1E21 - 47 Laker Challenge, Josh's Experience


Josh reflects on morning swims in White Lake with a childhood friend. He remembers hating it at the time, but also being intrigued by this challenge of swimming across bodies of open water. This interest remained with him, and led to him working with a swim coach as an adult.


This past year, Josh discovered the Adirondack 47 Laker Challenge. This challenge involves swimming one mile or longer, unassisted, with no wetsuit, in 47 lakes of your choice within the Adirondack Park. People who attempt this challenge are known as Lake Baggers.


At the time of the interview, Josh has already completed 3 swims. The day following the interview he completed his 4th.


Josh recounts an unexpected challenge he encountered in his last swim. He didn’t realize that he was swimming with the wind on his way out, and was shocked at how much harder the second half of the swim was (against the wind). He discusses having to alter his strategy on the fly to complete this swim.


Josh usually swims with a spotter for safety. His wife usually kayaks or canoes alongside him. She also helps by giving him updates on his pace and distance completed (tracked with GPS).


Josh also talks about the importance of having a swim buoy for extra safety. This is a device that is attached to his ankle and drags 10 feet behind him as he swims.


A typical 1-mile swim takes him roughly 45-55 minutes depending on conditions.


Josh discusses the challenge of different lakes. Some are bigger, some have more wind, others have a stronger current, etc. He enjoys the added challenge of lakes that are more intimidating.


Less than 100 people have completed the 47 Laker Challenge so far. Josh talks about the history of the challenge, and expects that it may become more popular over time.


Josh’s goal for 2021 is to complete 6 swims. In the long term he expects to complete the challenge in 8-10 years.


Josh talks about a couple of the lakes he’s most excited to swim soon: the Santanoni Lake, Mirror Lake, and Heart Lake.


Another component of this challenge is the hiking. Some lakes are roadside, but others will require hiking up to 2-3 miles to get to. This also adds the difficulty of having to carry a kayak or canoe all the way back to the lakes.


Andy asks what Josh likes best about this. Josh says he does enjoy the physical challenge, but what he likes best is just being out in nature in this new and interesting way. He really loves the scenery, both under water and above. He also enjoys the ancillary challenges, such as dealing with the cold temperature of these ADK lakes, and planning the logistics.


Josh discusses him swim strategy. He uses freestyle for speed, but also switches to side strokes and breast strokes for recovery purposes. He also forces himself to use both sides of his body equally, and makes sure that he spends equal time breathing on both sides. He does this to avoid imbalances, and to challenge himself to improve on his weaker side.


Going in a straight line in open water is another big challenge. Josh relies on his spotter to help him stay on course.


Josh talks about his swim training leading up to this challenge, and how incredibly helpful the various drills were that his swim coach taught him.


Ricky recounts his swim training in the Navy. This included a variety of diving and swim drills. He says the hardest part was the tactical swimming, which involved rescue techniques. They also did a lot of treading water with added weight.


Josh thinks a fun and interesting fitness challenge for anyone is to tread water for 10 minutes.


Ultimately, the 47 Laker Challenge might be a fun new way or people to experience the Adirondacks. Josh reminds everyone that it’s totally modifiable, you can create your own version involving shorter swims if you’re not ready for a 1-mile swim.

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