It’s 7:45 in the morning and there’s fog rolling over the quiet lake. You would never know that just 26 hours ago, history was being made at Falling Creek Camp.
In 2007, a camper accomplished the unprecedented. Roberto N. swam 128 lake laps, over 16 miles, in the Upper Lake. He began at the crack of dawn, swimming all day with his counselor, Peter Bishop, paddling by his side in a canoe for safety and support. He stopped only briefly to eat lunch and dinner before jumping back into the water to swim more laps.
On July 9, 2014, a camper once again accomplished the unprecedented. Eric W. decided that he wanted to break Roberto’s record. Eric had had this goal in mind when he knew that he would be coming back to camp this summer.
Over the 4th of July weekend, Roberto came for a visit to camp. He was introduced as the record holder for most lake laps swam in a day. It was then that Eric decided that he was going to surpass Roberto’s record. Eric made his interest known, and even had a conversation with Roberto. Roberto encouraged Eric to do it, wanting his record broken. He would always be the first person to absolutely shatter the previous record, but he really wanted his record to be challenged and for that challenge to become a tradition. This is what Eric aimed to do.
In preparation for swimming more than 16 miles in one day, Eric did very little training. During the year, he is a competitive swimmer, but the longest distance he had ever traversed through the water was 5k, or 3.1 miles. This was indeed a herculean task, but he was determined to try.
Over the next couple days, a support team of lifeguards, Sara Wise and Evan Wescott, was put together to paddle at Eric’s side and to be on alert at the dock in case of emergency. Evan and Sara took turns at the different jobs so that they would be ready to act if anything were to happen. They had a steady supply of water, electrolytes, and food, such as bananas and granola bars, to keep Eric hydrated and well-nutritioned throughout the day in between the rest breaks he would take for breakfast and lunch.
The morning of the undertaking, a small contingent of people awakened before the sun to help Eric achieve one of his dreams. Eric, his support team, a few of his cabin mates, one of his cabin counselors, and a small group of other staff arrived at the swim docks before 6am. By 6:15, Eric was in the water and starting his first lap. Ryan Smith, his cabin counselor, swam with him.
Throughout the day, Eric had a few people jump in and swim a couple laps with him and there was a constant atmosphere of encouragement from all of the campers as they went about their regularly scheduled activities throughout the day. The campers would even form in big groups to chant his name and “I believe that he will swim!” countless times before the day was done.
Eric got out of the water for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and replenished every couple of laps while staying in the water. Sara and Evan did a fantastic job of making sure that Eric stopped for water, electrolytes, and food to ensure he could break the record safely without endangering himself.
By the time dinner rolled around, Eric had completed 123 laps. After dinner he would have about an hour to swim 5 laps to tie the record and 6 laps to break it. Having swam an average of about 10 laps an hour all day, Eric’s dream was definitely within his grasp.
After dinner, Eric hopped back into the water one last time for the day. Everyone was trembling inside with excitement about what was about to happen. Four laps down (127 laps total), everyone on the docks are restless with anticipation. When Eric completes his 128th lap, the crowd that had formed around the lake went wild! As he was starting his 129th lap, “We Are the Champions” was blasting through the speakers as everyone changes the lyrics to, “He is the champion, my friends. And he’ll keep on swimming till the end. He is the champion. He is the champion…of the lake.”
Eric finished up his day with lap 130 around the Upper Lake. He broke the record of lake laps and increased it by two. When I asked him how he felt after accomplishing his goal he said, “I feel awesome, but now I want some more food, and I want to go to bed!”
Well done Eric!