Jamie Patrick, 41, is a long distance endurance and adventure swimmer, who has swum the Sacramento River and crossed the Lake Tahoe. He is currently preparing for his next big swimming adventure and tells us below of what inspires him to undertake these massive feats and goes through his mind during a swim.
“My name is Jamie Patrick. I swim to experience life at water level. I design, create and live my adventures in the water. I first tasted life in the water at the age of seven, and now at age 41, I continue to swim. Not to break records, not to go farther or faster than anyone else, I swim to explore. I choose where I start, and where I finish. I train, plan and prepare for swims of extreme distances. I like to push myself to grow mentally, physically and spiritually. I seek the true spirit of life while in the open water. I love to not only visit new geographical places, but new thresholds of endurance through my swims. As much as I physically explore the world in the water, I mentally and spiritually explore the furthest reaches of my inner self. I am an Adventure Swimmer.
To date, the longest continuous swim I have ever achieved is 31 hours and 26 minutes. It has taken me years of incremental steps to get to this duration, which I accomplished while swimming in the majestic Sacramento River. Over the course of my swims, I do not exit the water. I float only to take eating breaks.
I have done other endurance events, but what’s unique about distance swimming is the lack of visual simulation. Even before entering the water, my world shrinks behind the lenses of my goggles. And once I start swimming, it’s all blurry darkness. My face is in the water, my vision vaguely focused on the mysteries of the water, punctuated by moments above water as I breath. Sometimes I can make out shapes in the sifting silt. Sometimes, like when I swam in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, I watch amazing fish play in their natural environment. And at other times, like when I swam in the shark-infested waters off the Farallon Islands, the lack of vision was just as much of a cocoon as anything else. Believe me, it’s far better to see uniform grayness than the large, dark shapes of your nightmares.
The dynamic underwater world has proven to be fertile grounds for my imagination. Everything feels heightened in the water. The pain, and the joy, is far more intense than anything I’ve experienced on land. I dream in the water, I think about my amazing wife and daughter, I watch the sunlight dance…all of it feels possible in the water. And most of all, it all feels very much alive in the moment.
I have completed more than a dozen swims of over twelve miles in preparation for my two biggest swims of my life. In 2010 I completed a 44 mile double crossing of Lake Tahoe. This took me just over 25 hours of non-stop swimming. In 2011 I swam 111 miles, aided by the current, down the Sacamento River, my longest swim and my greatest adventure yet.
But the point of adventure is that it is never over. As I train, I am continuing the adventure. As I plan with my crew, I continue to explore new grounds. And right now, I am planning my next big dream, which will bring me back to the beautiful Lake Tahoe that holds a special place in my heart and mind. I will swim the entire perimeter of Lake Tahoe, a journey of approximately 70 miles, and 40 hours, which I am calling the Tahoe 360.
I have a globe that sits next to my desk at my office in San Francisco. Every day, I spin the globe, and imagine where my adventures will take me next. I know that I’m going to swim the Strait of Gibraltar in preparation for the Tahoe 360. I know that I will also swim across Lake Shasta. But the world is a big place, and is mostly covered in water. I have a list hanging next to the globe of other amazing places where I want to swim. From Africa to Italy. Down the River Thames. Yamdrock Lake in Tibet. As fellow open water swimmer Karen Rogers says “If you can dream it, then you can swim it.”
My name is Jamie Patrick. My adventures will continue, because I am an Adventure Swimmer.”
Read more about Jamie Patrick’s underwater adventures here: www.thetahoe360.com.