Challenge: Lake Tahoe 2.4 Mile Open Water Swim

This year, I decided I wanted to do a longer open water swim than I had accomplished before. I looked around at races and I landed on the Lake Tahoe 2.4 Mile Open Water Swim in August. Challenge accepted!

Before I picked the race, I knew I wanted the swim distance to be around 5,000 yards, in a freshwater lake, and in a beautiful location I had never been before. I found a bunch of places that matched these requirements, but I knew Lake Tahoe was the right fit. It was within driving distance, in a stunningly beautiful location, and is a place I’ve always wanted to go.

I registered for the 2.4 mile race (4,224 yards) which was not far off from my original goal distance and in the wetsuit category. I’m not quite ready to brave the 60 degree water without that little bit of extra protection from the cold. Maybe I’ll attempt something like that without a wetsuit later on, but I will need to build up my tolerance before any such attempt!


To prepare for the race, I have been training with Racelab, a triathlon and running focused training organization local to the Phoenix, Arizona area. They have been one of the top triathlon teams in the area and have been training athletes for almost 20 years. I started with the team a few years back when I was training for an Ironman 70.3 and have continued with them ever since. The training plans they create are customized for each athlete and are backed by research in each specific sport. If you aren’t in the Phoenix area and are thinking about signing up for a race, they also offer remote training plans. If you have any interest you should definitely reach out to them through their website or contact me directly and I can get you all connected.

Unfortunately I didn’t compete in that Ironman 70.3 race, but I made that decision because my personal priorities shifted toward my master’s degree and away from hours of daily training. No complaints there because I am so proud of where I am now and an open water swim feels like the right thing for me at the current moment. The 2.4 mile swim is the same distance as the swim in a full Ironman race, so maybe this will be the gateway to getting back into that training? One step at a time.

To get ready for this race, I am currently swimming 5 days a week, doing strength training twice a week, and stretching/foam rolling almost every day. Slightly outside of this training plan, I have decided to start going to the climbing gym once a week as well. I have also started eating better and watching my intake to support my training and to help with other fitness goals.

Training has been going really well and I am looking forward to the race this August.

About the author

Erin Bonilla

I am a curriculum developer, technical trainer, communicator, and adventurer with a passion for human space exploration and training. I am actively involved in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) educational outreach efforts and advocate for the deep connection between the arts and science education.

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