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Swiss swimmer breaks record for fastest men's lake swim

by Max Dupras/ Intern Reporter
| August 3, 2023 12:00 AM

Martyn Webster made history on July 19 as he broke the record for fastest swim of the length of Flathead Lake.

“I have swum many lakes and seas around the world over the last eight years but I can honestly say that Flathead is one of the most picturesque and cleanest lakes I have swum in,” Webster said in a press release. “I will definitely come back and swim some different routes in the future.”

The Switzerland resident saddled up at 6:40 a.m. on the Somers Boat Ramp on the northern shore of the lake for a daunting 28-mile swim to Riverside Park in Polson that took a total of 14 hours and 30 minutes, a new men’s record.

“Many things can stop these swims, the wind is a particular enemy when you are in the water for 14-15 hours. But everything came together this week,” Webster wrote. “It has been a great experience to come to Flathead Lake and have the support of local people in helping me achieve my dreams.”

Webster was prepared for long races, having completed many marathons and solo swims such as the Lake Zurich Marathon Swim, but this was easily the longest swim of his career.

"We are absolutely thrilled by Martyn’s achievement," said local long-distance swimmer Mark Johnston in the press release.

Johnston, the founder of Flathead Lake Open Swimmers, was on a boat accompanying the swimmer. Also on the boat were Webster’swife, Cat, Jess Bouchee and Rachel Wanderscheid, who paddle boarded next to him for assistance.

His journey the length of the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States came to a close at 9:15 p.m. when he landed at Riverside Park.

The temperate waters of around 60 degrees and what Johnston said in a press release was “excellent weather” made for a mission Webster was poised to complete and helps accomplish a goal he set four years ago.

“Mark and I first talked about the swim in 2019 but due to COVID and other commitments in previous years it was not possible to arrange sooner,” Webster said. “But I am so pleased to have finally gotten here and had a successful swim.”

Flathead Lake has seen many records broken in the past decade with Emily von Jentzen being the first person ever to swim the length of the lake, 56 miles, in one go.

FLOW Swimmers are a group of open water swimmers that work together to swim bodies of water while informing people about preserving natural waters as well.

This group has another long-distance swim scheduled for Aug. 1 when 35-year-old Laura Chenier of Denver, Colo., will attempt to swim from Elmo to Yellow Bay. This is the widest portion of the lake, spanning approximately 15 miles.

For more information on FLOW, visit www.flowswimmers.com and learn about what it takes to swim in some of the largest lakes in the Northwest.