Proclaimed as being “one for the top spot in your trophy cabinet”, Lake Geneva is a 70km ultra-marathon swim past some of the most spectacular scenery Switzerland has to offer. On 11 and 12 August, Kate Mason and Julia Aston from Weymouth, United Kingdom, became the first people to complete a two-person relay of the lake. They completed the challenge in 28hrs and 12mins.
According to the Lake Geneva Swimming Association, the swim requires “the highest level of determination and conditioning.” Both Kate and Julia have impressive open water swimming CVs, including solo and relay Channel crossings, Manhattan Island, Lake Zurich and Rottnest.
“We are always looking for different swims to do,” says Kate. “Julia and I swim and train together but never have done a two-person relay so it was different – especially as we didn’t have much opportunity to speak to each other! So we wrote notes to encourage and ensure each other were ok throughout the swim.”
Training was squeezed in around full-time jobs. Kate is a specialist exercise instructor in cardiac rehab and a swimming coach and Julia is a full-time specialist nurse. They split their training between their local leisure centre and the sea.
“We are very lucky living in Weymouth,” says Kate. “We planned to do two hour rotations for this swim as the water was warmer than home.”
Despite the threat of thunderstorms, conditions for the swim were ideal. Water temperature was 23 degrees Celsius. Air temperature was 26 degrees during the day and 17 degrees at night with minimal wind.
“The swim was challenging in that it was long, but the location was amazing and the conditions perfect,” says Kate. “Warming up after each swim wasn’t really an issue, but we wanted enough time to rest and refuel to then get in and swim again. It worked well for us.”
The pair set off from the Chateau de Chillon at 9.50am and reached Geneva at Le Bain des Pacques 28 hours and 12 minutes later.
“We were welcomed in by people enjoying the sunshine on the shores of Lake Geneva,” says Kate. “We felt like celebrities for a brief moment as it was quite surreal. The reception from the people on the shore actually made us realise we had just done something rather special.”
Kate and Julia celebrated their success with an ice cream, a welcome change from energy gels.
“We would recommend the swim to others,” says Kate. “A relay is a great way to enjoy the lake and the surroundings.”