Photos courtesy of Cimarron Anderson, S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge, Arizona.
53 individuals will attempt to complete the entire 64.3 km SCAR Swim Challenge between April 25th – 28th this week in Arizona.
Over a four-day period in the Arizona desert, the intrepid 53 will attempt to complete all four stage swims of SCAR: 9.5-mile (15.2 km) Saguaro Lake + 9-mile (14.4 km) Canyon Lake + 17-mile (27.3 km) Apache Lake + 6.2-mile (10 km) night swim in Roosevelt Lake.
“As a swimmer, I want to finish every swim I attempt,” describes race founder and visionary Kent Nicholas. “The S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge is very difficult swim, with Mother Nature’s deck of cards dealing a different hand at every lake.”
The S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge is set in the rugged American southwest desert. It started out as an under-the-cover, quiet solo training swim by Nicholas for his Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 2012. But S.C.A.R. is no longer a rogue swim under the radar.
The secret swims have been long outed among open water swimmers around the global who know all details about the out-of-the-way, 4-day, 4-stage happening.
“It is like a who’s who of open water swimming where dozens of well-known luminaries of the sport mix with newcomers and emerging swimmers where the focus is on camaraderie rather than competition, and clearly open water passion rather than racing pressure,” observed Steven Munatones.
The swims across Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake all have their own flavors and challenges where flexibility and recovery are just as important elements as are feeds and navigation. Nicholas’ brainchild of a course is set along four majestic reservoirs on the Salt River in the desert wild.
“Apache Lake was at its toughest in 2017,” reported Nicholas. “Hands down, it was the toughest. Not in terms of water temperature, but definitely in terms of wind.”
Nicholas tells the history of swimming across the Apache. “In 2012, we didn’t track times, but two swimmers finished and six did not. In 2013, 61-year-old Mo Siegel finished in 7 hours 36 minutes. In 2014, Apache had 15 finishers (all non-wetsuit) out of 22. Mo turns in an 11 hour 1 minute finishing time that was 3 hours off his previous year and he was in better shape. 68% finished. In 2015, we saw 28 finishers out of 38 swimmers for a 73% finisher rate. In 2016, there were 10 finishers out of 31 swimmers for a 32% finisher rate. In 2017, there were only 4 finishers out of 40 swimmers for a 10% finisher rate with the two-time SCAR champion, 36-year-old Stephen Rouch swimming Apache only 5 minutes faster than 61-year-old Mo’s 2013 time.“
Last year, only four swimmers completed all four stages: Stephen Rouch in 16 hours 48 minutes, Abigail Fairman in 19 hours 14 minutes, Amy Gubser in 20 hours 17 minutes, and Matthew Schubert in 20 hours 21 minutes.
How many of the 53 will complete the four stages this year?
“Let Mother Nature come at us, we’re ready,” predicted Nicholas
The last swim across Roosevelt Lake is done at night, a night swim the swimmers always remember.
Patrick Brundage recalls his swim, “I could swing my eyes upward a bit and see the brilliant starry sky that we never get to see in light-polluted Phoenix. It was gorgeous. Add to that the neat effect of my orange glow stick wrist band and one of my pink glow sticks that was on a longer string flopping around and this was the closest I think I’ll ever come to a swimming rave. I didn’t even need club music to get totally lost in the zone of swimming. I was really digging [swimming in Roosevelt].”
And the daytime swims are similarly unforgettable.
David Barra summed up his first reservoir in Arizona, “The banks of the river and Saguaro Lake are lined with sage and saguaro cacti that alternate between open areas and tall canyon walls rising straight out of the water. The rugged beauty of this lake is breathtaking, and I was, at times, distracted, wanting to focus my attention on one feature or another.”
Janet Harris who has been traveling from New York to Arizona for years lauds the event. “Canyon Lake lives up to its name. The walls rose up dramatically on both sides of the lake all along the twisty route from dam to dam. We have even seen big-horn sheep along the way.”
The opening day Saguaro Lake stage is a 9.5-mile (15.2 km) swim at 1529-feet (466m) elevation which is rimmed with canyon walls. The lake is home to all kinds of fish including carp weighing as much as 30 pounds. The venue is within the Superstition Wilderness of the Tonto National Forest.
The second-day Canyon Lake is a 9-mile (14.4 km) stage, swum at 1,660 feet (505m) altitude, formed by the Mormon Flat Dam.
The third day is tough, flat-out tough. The Apache Lake is a 17-mile (27.3 km) stage in the beautifully isolated Apache Lake. The lake separates the Four Peaks Wilderness from the Superstition Wilderness and is considered fairly remote with only dirt road access. The picturesque canyon is framed by the Mazatzal Mountains and Superstition Mountains.
On the last day, the Roosevelt Lake stage is a 10 km night swim that begins at a very small boat dock approximately 5 miles east of the marina and finishes under the stars and moon at the Roosevelt Dam.
For more information, visit here.
2018 SCAR Swimmers
1. Ali Hall from San Francisco, California doing all 4 SCAR lakes
2. Allison Ware from Nashville, Tennessee doing all 4 SCAR lakes
3. Amy Frick from Chester, Virginia doing all 4 SCAR lakes
4. Amy Gubser from Pacifica, California doing all 4 SCAR lakes
5. Anel Sytdykova from Almaty, Kazakhstan doing all 4 SCAR lakes
6. Arleen González Perez from México City doing all 4 SCAR lakes
7. Mányoki Attila from Zalaegerszeg, Hungary doing all 4 SCAR lakes
8. Audrey Hungerpiller from Savannah, Georgia doing all 4 SCAR lakes
9. Cathy Harrington from Danville, California doing all 4 SCAR lakes
10. Chris Burke from St. Petersburg, Florida doing all 4 SCAR lakes
11. Colleen Blair from Scotland doing all 4 SCAR lakes
12. Courtney Paulk from Richmond, Virginia doing all 4 SCAR lakes
13. Devon Clifford from New York, New York doing all 4 SCAR lakes
14. Edward Riley from New York, New York doing all 4 SCAR lakes
15. Eliza Cummings from Denver, Colorado doing all 4 SCAR lakes
16. Gerald George from Phoenix, Arizona doing all 4 SCAR lakes
17. Greg O’Connor from Natick, Massachusetts doing all 4 SCAR lakes
18. Ian Tarrant from St. Petersburg, Florida doing all 4 SCAR lakes
19. James Cherry from Ojai, California doing all 4 SCAR lakes
20. Jamie Ann Phillips from Chattanooga, Tennessee doing all 4 SCAR lakes
21. Jamie Tout from Texas doing all 4 SCAR lakes
22. Janet Harris from New York, New York doing all 4 SCAR lakes
23. Joseph Zemaitis from Scottsdale, Arizona doing all 4 SCAR lakes
24. Julie Newton from Singapore doing all 4 SCAR lakes
25. Karl Pettijohn from Santa Monica, California doing all 4 SCAR lakes
26. Kurt Adkins from Mesa, Arizona doing all 4 SCAR lakes
27. Lauren Grous from League City, Texas doing all 4 SCAR lakes [see follow-up article here]
28. Liz Uribe from Iowa City, Iowa doing all 4 SCAR lakes
29. Luise Rasche from Zurich, Switzerland doing all 4 SCAR lakes
30. Mark Smitherman from Clearwater, Florida doing all 4 SCAR lakes
31. Mark Spratt from Davenport, Iowa doing all 4 SCAR lakes
32. Maureen Montgomery from Clearwater, Florida doing all 4 SCAR lakes
33. Melinda Menzer from Taylors, South Carolina doing all 4 SCAR lakes
34. Michael Pollanen from Ontario, Canada doing all 4 SCAR lakes
35. Mo Siegel from Piermont, New York doing all 4 SCAR lakes
36. Pat Marzulli from Indian Rocks Beach, Florida doing all 4 SCAR lakes
37. Patrick McDermot from Salem, New Hampshire doing all 4 SCAR lakes
38. Paul Schriefer from Johns Creek, Georgia doing all 4 SCAR lakes
39. Paula Yankauskas from Hyde Park, Vermont doing all 4 SCAR lakes
40. Peter Hayden from Laguna Hills, California doing all 4 SCAR lakes
41. Peter Lofquist from Mesa, Arizona doing all 4 SCAR lakes
42. Robin Rose from Aptos, California doing all 4 SCAR lakes
43. Serbo Simeoni from Safety Harbor, Florida doing all 4 SCAR lakes
44. Stefan Reinke from Honolulu, Hawaii doing all 4 SCAR lakes
45. Stephanie Hopson from Los Angeles, California doing all 4 SCAR lakes
46. Stephen Key from Dallas, Texas doing all 4 SCAR lakes
47. Steve Gruenwald from Faribault, Minnesota doing all 4 SCAR lakes
48. Steven Minaglia from Kaneohe, Hawaii doing all 4 SCAR lakes
49. Sue-Ellen Booher from Warren, Vermont doing all 4 SCAR lakes
50. Thomas Schwartz from Sarasota, Florida doing all 4 SCAR lakes
51. Tiffany McQueen from Belton, Texas doing all 4 SCAR lakes
52. Wendy Van De Sompele from Vashon, Washington doing all 4 SCAR lakes
53. Yasmin (Mina) Elnaccash from Somerville, Massachusetts doing all 4 SCAR lakes
54. Bradley Lundblad from Gilbert, Arizona doing the 17-mile Apache Lake
55. Claude Davignon from Repentigny Quebec, Canada doing the 17-mile Apache Lake
56. Stephen Rouch from Royal Center, Indiana doing the 17-mile Apache Lake
57. Tom Linthicum from Fair Play, California doing the 17-mile Apache Lake
58. Diego López Dominguez from Spain doing the 10 km Roosevelt Lake
59. Michelle Squyer from San Francisco, California doing the 10 km Roosevelt Lake
60. Mike Richley from Springboro, Ohio doing the 10 km Roosevelt Lake
61. Stephanie Mindlin from Scottsdale, Arizona doing the 10 km Roosevelt Lake
62. Audrey Viers from Mission Viejo, California doing the 9.5-mile Saguaro Lake
63. Kyle Poland from Springboro, Ohio doing the 9.5-mile Saguaro Lake and 9-mile Canyon Lake
64. Matthew Schubert from Huntington Beach, California doing the 9.5-mile Saguaro Lake
The results from Day 1 in Saguaro Lake are here (Stefan Reinke Outduels Serbo Simeoni On SCAR Day 1).
The results from Day 2 in Canyon Lake are here. (Reinke Hangs On, Jamie Ann Phillips Swimming Strong).
The results from Day 3 across Apache Lake are here (Jamie Ann Phillips Forges Into The Lead In Apache Lake).
The overall results and results from Day 4 in Roosevelt Lake are here. (Night Falls, So Do Records. Jamie Ann Phillips Leads Way).
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