Day 1 Is In The Books. 49 States, 49 Marathon Swims To Go

Day 1 Is In The Books. 49 States, 49 Marathon Swims To Go

With 50 marathon swims to go and over 17,700 kilometers to travel, Joe Zemaitis and John Zemaitis did not just wade into the waters off Oahu – they literally sprinted into the Pacific Ocean to start the Ultimate Swim-a-Thon.

Together with Dr. Steven Minaglia, the two brothers set off on their unprecedented swim across America where they will attempt to complete a marathon swim of at least 10 kilometers in all 50 American states in, ideally, 24 days.

Dr. Minaglia described Day One of the Ultimate Swim-A-Thon, “What a great swim today. Joe presented me with quite a challenge: set a course that had to be 10 km or more based on geographic landmarks that do not change, is safe to enter and exit for the swimmers and the escort crew (kayaker and SUP), had to have an independent observer, and most importantly, be quick enough for the brothers to make their 1:20 pm flight to Alaska for Swim #2 on Day Two.

Given a lot of research, RIMPAC in the [local] waters, and the recent huge swells that we’ve had in Hawaii I planned the swim from Makaha [Beach] Cabanas to Yokohama Bay. We had current against us for most of it (rising tide), but the weather and views were awesome. I am so grateful to be part of their epic 50-state marathon swims and especially grateful I got to swim it with them. We all pushed hard given our deadlines and everyone landed safely.

Onto Alaska for those guys and me… back to the clinic.”

John (left), Joe (right)

Joe and John have a very ambitious plan to complete 50 different marathon swims in 50 different courses that includes 4 separate days of 3 marathon swims each (see itinerary and swimming location plan below).

The Zemaitis brothers are doing so to benefit the USA Swimming Foundation in the Ultimate Swim-a-Thon. Joe explains, “It is exclusively benefiting the USA Swimming Foundation with all of the costs of the trip covered independently and ALL money raised going DIRECTLY to the USA Swimming Foundation.”

Joe says, “I love how this trip is equal parts intricate planning and skillful improvisation.  I’ve been working for years on the plan, but I think it was Mike Tyson that said “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.  I know that we will get punched in the mouth during this adventure and we’re going to have to roll with the punches and swim with the tide.”

For 35 years I’ve been involved with USA Swimming as a swimmer and as a coach,” continued Joe. “To partner with the USA Swimming Foundation to spread the message of Saving Lives and Building Champions as we go across the United States swimming a marathon in all 50 states will be the trip of a lifetime. For nearly 20 years, I’ve been challenging swimmers I coach in Arizona at Swim Neptune to set challenging goals, train hard, and fearlessly pursue their dreams. I’m getting the chance to do just that with our upcoming adventure.”

Joe and John are now on their way to Big Lake in Anchorage, Alaska. After Day Two, the brothers and their support crew plan to pile into an RV and start driving and swimming throughout the 48 contiguous states, ending in Arizona in mid-August.

August is, appropriately for this event, Drowning Impact Awareness month. “The USA Swimming Foundation is grateful for Joe and John’s incredible generosity and their commitment
to water safety and drowning prevention
,” said Lucinda McRoberts, Executive Director of the USA
Swimming Foundation. “We are excited to follow their journey and cheer on their progress.”

To donate and to follow updates on Joe and John’s progress and exploits along their journey, visit here and on Instagram @SwimBrothersUSA.

Joe and John have both been nominated as WOWSA’s World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year (Joe in 2020 and 2021, and John in 2020). Among their marathon swims, they have swum the English Channel, a double circumnavigation swim of Manhattan Island, across Loch Ness, a two-way crossing of the Sea of Galilee.

Ultimate Swim-A-Thon Schedule:

  • Day 1 (July 20th), Swim 1: 10.2 km from Makaha Beach to Keawaula Beach on Oahu, State of Hawaii
  • Day 2 (July 21st), Swim 2: 10.33 km in Big Lake, City of Anchorage, State of Alaska
  • Day 3 (July 22nd), Swim 3: 10.41 km in Lake Tahoe, State of Nevada
  • Day 3 (July 22nd), Swim 4: 10.06 km in Lake Tahoe, State of California
  • Day 4 (July 23rd), Swim 5: 17.16 km in the Willamette River, Portland, State of Oregon
  • Day 4 (July 23rd), Swim 6: 10.32 in Yale Lake, City of Yale, State of Washington
  • Day 5 (July 24th), Swim 7: 10.00 km in Coeur d’Alene, City of Coeur d’Alene, State of Idaho
  • Day 5 (July 24th), Swim 8: 10.43 in Flathead Lake, City of Elmo, State of Montana
  • Day 6 (July 25th), Swim 9: 10.38 km in Lake de Smet, City of Sheridan, State of Wyoming
  • Day 6 (July 25th), Swim 10: 10.30 km in Belle Fourche Dam, Belle Fourche, State of South Dakota
  • Day 7 (July 26th), Swim 11: 10.35 km in Lake Ashtabula, Valley City, State of North Dakota
  • Day 7 (July 26th), Swim 12: 10.08 km in Lake Minnewaska, City of Glenwood, State of Minnesota
  • Day 7 (July 26th), Swim 13: 10.05 km in Spirit Lake, City of Spirit Lake, Iowa
  • Day 8 (July 27th), Swim 14: 10.22 km in Lake Michigan, City of Kenosha, State of Wisconsin
  • Day 8 (July 27th), Swim 15: 11.97 km in Lake Michigan, City of Waukegan, State of Illinois
  • Day 9 (July 28th), Swim 16: 10.08 km in Lake Michigan, Michigan City, State of Indiana
  • Day 9 (July 28th), Swim 17: 10.21 km in Lake Michigan, City of New Buffalo, State of Michigan
  • Day 10 (July 29th), Swim 18: 10.12 km in Lake Erie, City of Conneaut, State of Ohio
  • Day 10 (July 29th), Swim 19: 10.24 km in Lake Erie, City of Erie, State of Pennsylvania
  • Day 10 (July 29th), Swim 20: 10.24 km in Lake Erie, City of Westfield, State of New York
  • Day 11 (July 30th), Swim 21: 10.20 km in Lake Champlain, City of Burlington, State of Vermont
  • Day 11 (July 30th), Swim 22: 10.13 km in Lake Winnipesaukee, Glendale, State of New Hampshire
  • Day 12 (July 31st), Swim 23: 10.08 km in Lake Sebago, City of South Casco, State of Maine
  • Day 12 (July 31st), Swim 24: 10.04 km in Buzzards Bay, City of Pocasset, State of Massachusetts
  • Day 13 (August 1st), Swim 25: 10.16 km in Narragansett Bay, City of Warwick, State of Rhode Island
  • Day 13 (August 1st), Swim 26: 10.08 km in Long Island Sound, City of Norwalk, State of Connecticut
  • Day 14 (August 2nd), Swim 27: 10.06 km in Silver Bay, City of Toms River, State of New Jersey
  • Day 14 (August 2nd), Swim 28: 10.18 km in Rehoboth Bay, City of Rehoboth Bay, State of Delaware
  • Day 15 (August 3rd), Swim 30: 10.46 km in Summersville Lake, Summersville, State of West Virginia
  • Day 15 (August 3rd), Swim 31: 10.44 km in Cave Run Lake, City of Morehead, State of Kentucky
  • Day 16 (August 4th), Swim 32: 10.22 km in South Holston Lake, City of Bristol, State of Virginia
  • Day 16 (August 4th), Swim 33: 10.64 km in South Holston Lake, City of Bristol, Tennessee
  • Day 17 (August 5th), Swim 34: 10.43 km in Lake Norman, City of Charlotte, State of North Carolina
  • Day 17 (August 5th), Swim 35: 10.62 km in Lake Wylie, City of Charlotte, South Carolina
  • Day 18 (August 6th), Swim 36: 10.62 km in Lake Burton, City of Clayton, State of Georgia
  • Day 18 (August 6th), Swim 37: 10.22 km in Lake Guntersville, City of Guntersville, State of Alabama
  • Day 19 (August 7th), Swim 38: 10.14 km in Choctawhatchee Bay, City of Destin, State of Florida
  • Day 19 (August 7th), Swim 39: 10.14 km in Bay St. Louis, City of Bay St. Louis, State of Mississippi
  • Day 20 (August 8th), Swim 40: 10.48 km in Toledo Bend Reservoir, City of Florein, State of Louisiana
  • Day 20 (August 8th), Swim 41: 10.16 km in Toledo Bend Reservoir, City of Fairmont, State of Texas
  • Day 20 (August 8th), Swim 42: 10.14 km in Broken Bow Lake, City of Broken Law, State of Oklahoma
  • Day 21 (August 9th), Swim 43: 10.26 km in Beaver Lake, City of Bentonville, State of Arkansas
  • Day 21 (August 9th), Swim 44: 10.58 km in Table Rock Lake, City of Branson, State of Missouri
  • Day 22 (August 10th), Swim 45: 10.09 km in Wilson Lake, City of Russell, State of Kansas
  • Day 22 (August 10th), Swim 46: 10.62 km in Harlan County Lake, City of Alma, State of Nebraska
  • Day 23 (August 11th), Swim 47: 10.00 km in Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins, State of Colorado
  • Day 23 (August 11th), Swim 48: 10.30 km in Heron Lake, City of Rutheron, State of New Mexico
  • Day 24 (August 12th), Swim 49: 10.13 km in Lake Powell, City of Wahweap, State of Utah
  • Day 24 (August 12th), Swim 50: 10.38 km Lake Pleasant, City of Phoenix, State of Arizona

The Swim Brothers’ crew members will include Steve Minaglia, MD, Brandon Johnson, PhD, Wendy Kolberg, Jeff Moessinger, Tom Linthicum, Alex Webster, Braxton Bilbrey, Roric Fink, Steve Bilbrey, Jerry George, Jacqui Lockwood, and Henry Palmer.

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Steven Munatones