Boys learn valuable lessons from ultraswimmer’s Lake Tahoe quest
August 17, 2005
My eyes repeatedly scanned the horizon of Lake Tahoe for any sign of ultraswimmer Bruckner Chase.
It was already 1 p.m. on Monday and my sons and I had been reclining on Kings Beach for an hour, waiting for the 39-year-old to finish swimming the length of the lake. With nothing to do but dip in the lake, the boys weren’t too pleased about being pulled from their summer routine at home.
They were antsy and determined to make me pay for the inconvenience.
As the minutes passed by, one of my impatient boys had the nerve to say, “Has the man died yet.”
At first, my son’s response seemed overwhelmingly insensitive and I didn’t like it. Then I realized he is only 12 years old and the idea of someone trying to swim 22 miles across the lake must have seemed suicidal.
How could anyone consider spending 11 straight hours in the lake and risk hypothermia and their life by doing something that wasn’t rational? Heck, we were pleased that our Ford Explorer made the hour trip from the South Shore without a breakdown.
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Of course, my boy wasn’t aware that Chase had a four-person support crew that was constantly monitoring his condition for fatigue and alertness.
But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with Connor. Life is too precious to throw away in a large body of cold water. Chase and his fiance Michelle Evans are scheduled to be married following his pursuit of swimming the English Channel next August. They have too much to live for, but after getting to know Chase a little bit the past week I realize that life to him is challenging the body to do what the mind says isn’t possible.
Connor, obviously, didn’t know how much swimming obstacles mean to Chase.
It was close to 4 p.m. by the time Chase arrived on Kings Beach (I can’t tell you what the boys were doing by then; it wasn’t pretty). Few people noticed Chase stumble onto the beach and the ones who did probably thought he was a swimmer who almost drowned.
Except for Connor and my oldest son, Jordan, applauding as Bruckner reached the sandy beach, friends, support crew members and the media were the only people to notice what Bruckner had achieved. One beachgoer did take the time to ask Chase what he had done and then offered his congratulations, but Chase’s unbelievable accomplishment passed with little fanfare.
Chase didn’t seem to mind. He has passed his biggest challenge to date and the English Channel is next on his hit list.
Meanwhile, the boys had made it to the other side of the lake, too, and learned a valuable lesson in people testing their limits. Upon their return to South Lake Tahoe an hour later, they were proud to announce that they had gone around the lake in one day for the first time in their young lives.
Now that’s a feat, especially for their chauffeur.
– Tribune Sports Editor Steve
Yingling can be reached at
530) 542-8010 or
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