Lura Wilhelm, Steven Munatones Win SCAR Swim Buckles

Lura Wilhelm, Steven Munatones Win SCAR Swim Buckles

When Kent Nicholas envisioned the SCAR Swim, his purpose was to physically and mentally prepare himself for his English Channel and Catalina Channel solo crossings. 

So Day 4 of the 4-stage race in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona traditionally ends SCAR with a night swim in Roosevelt Lake

While many swimmers are comfortable swimming at night, Roosevelt Lake presents a special type of darkness.  This year, on a New Moon, the stars were out on a cloudless night. 

Nicholas offered this advice during his pre-race technical meeting that doubled up as a heartfelt inspirational talk to the swimmers, most of whom will go onto attempt all kinds of channel and marathon swims this year. “Take the time to appreciate where we are swimming tonight and who you are swimming with and those who are escorting you.  Take off your goggles and look up into the night sky.  You will see shooting stars.”

Steve Sutton, a SCAR veteran, reminded the newbies, “It gets dark fast, very fast out here in the desert. Once the sun goes down, it is like someone suddenly turned off the lights.”

Both Nicholas and Sutton were spot on with their advice. 

Steven Munatones, who won both the last stage and the overall SCAR title, did not know what to expect on the new triangle course.  “With the winds we have experienced over the last four days in Saguaro, Canyon and Apache, I can imagine one leg might be easy, one leg will be hard, and one could be a mix depending on the direction of the surface chop.”

The course was a major change from all the past SCAR point-to-point editions. Nicholas said, “We have work to do on marking our new night course  at Roosevelt, but the new route was something we should have done ten years ago.”

While there was a slight feathering along the first leg, the crisp desert night was generally still and the water surface became glassy.  “The tranquility of swimming at night under the stars was incredible.  I could see only pinpoints of light onshore coming into the finish, but looking at all the swimmers along the course, escorted by their illuminated kayakers was special. Even those I could only hear the sounds of my arm strokes, and could not see much at all, it felt like a close, tight knit community out on the water.”

Sutton agreed on the sense of community and the benefits of being part of this group, “I learned lots of lessons from the week.  I’m ready to boost the training for my goals this year.   My son and escort kayaker Ryland and I made lots of new friends in the community.  We listened to so many stories from so many people.

Ryland and I got more plugged into this fabulous community of encouragement and had amazing conversations with so many people about colleges, life, challenges, adversity, crossings, career paths, and suggestions.

We have invitations to swim all over the world.  It looks like a training week in Lake Tahoe and to Aquatic Park in San Francisco. 

We swam with five of the ten people in history who swam across Monterey Bay.  All in all, it was an absolutely amazing experience: five days completely set aside to focus on what we love to do.   It was gorgeous scenery, unknown challenges, and growth.”

Steven Munatones and Lura Wilhelm were given the coveted SCAR Swim buckle and belt as the fastest male and female finishers. Sponsored by the ubiquitous Patty Hermann, the buckle is custom made by Sweetbird Studio and part of the tradition of extreme sports competitions. 

Hermann and Michael Reilly were examples of the types of swimmers who are attracted to the Arizona Challenge. Hermann was seen throughout the week escorting Barry O’Connor visiting from Ireland, helping out on the safety boats, hosting the pre-race swim and orientation, and dishing out useful information and advice to all who needed or requested help. 

Reilly finished the first swim in Saguaro, but then fell ill on the first day and couldn’t participate in the rest of the swims.  He recovered, but then lent a hand managing the safety boats, hauling kayaks, packing and carrying gear, and serving as one of Nicholas’ support crew doing whatever was necessary. 

Those are the types of people who make the sport what it is.

Cumulative Time Results

  1. Steven Munatones 16 hours 8 minutes 30.0 seconds
  2. Lura Wilhelm 17 hours 54 minutes 6.2 seconds
  3. Jordan Iverson 18 hours 16 minutes 22.5 seconds
  4. Van Cornwell 18 hours 21 minutes 55.1 seconds
  5. Leslie Hamilton 18 hours 50 minutes 59.4 seconds
  6. Stefan Reinke 19 hours 11 minutes 39.8 seconds
  7. Martyn Webster 19 hours 29 minutes 34.7 seconds
  8. Martha Wood 20 hours 10 minutes 37.1 seconds
  9. Sydelle Harrison 20 hours 10 minutes 37.4 seconds
  10. Eric Durban 20 hours 37 minutes 36.0 seconds
  11. Lars Durban 20 hours 37 minutes 36.0 seconds
  12. Neil Hailstone 20 hours 39 minutes 14.4 seconds
  13. Sarah Roberts 22 hours 55 minutes 39.5 seconds
  14. Jane Mason 25 hours 12 minutes 51.2 seconds
  15. Elaine Howley 25 hours 14 minutes 50.9 seconds
  • Other swimmers included Tracy Knight, Steve Sutton, Wendy Van De Sompele, Lauren Byron, Dana Price, Robin Hipolito, Peter Hayden, James Savage, Jorge Cortina, Andrew Wallace, Lauren Hasselquist, William Dichtel, Carol Bauer, Brian Lanahan, Mark Ochsner, Erin Churchill, Sarah Taft, Finbarr Hedderman, Michelle Squyer, Jessica Wood, Kyle Poland, Courtney Paulk, John Zemaitis, Melodee Liegl, Marnie Whitley, Bryan Crane, Eric Schall, Mark Spratt, Tricia Elmer, Kristiana Fox, Sidney Russell, Michael Reilly, and Susie Paul.

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Steven Munatones