Kamm takes the lake: 26-year-old Baltimore man swims Lake Tahoe from west to east
Jared Kamm has never participated in a long-distance endurance competition. That didn’t stop the 26-year-old from taking on Lake Tahoe.
“I’m a pretty stubborn guy when it comes to people telling me I can’t do something,” Kamm said.
The Baltimore native completed a trans-Tahoe swim from west to east Saturday, Aug. 20. Kamm swam the width of the alpine lake — 9.5 miles that he turned into 11 — in approximately six hours.
“It’s honestly no different than going out there and swimming with your buds,” Kamm said. “I think I had a smile on my face — even underwater — for like 90 percent of the swim, until my shoulder starting giving out on mile eight.”
Kamm was swimming at a steady clip of two miles per hour before, as he described it, hitting a wall about eight miles in. His inability to swim straight added nearly a mile-and-a-half to his journey, which finished around 2 p.m.
“It was just kind of a natural high, being in the lake and at the same time having friends and family around me,” Kamm said. “Just being able to share the experience with everyone was a great opportunity.”
Family and friends on a boat and three kayaks joined Kamm in the water. That group included his father Sam, mother Karen, girlfriend Allio Boyer, former neighbor Cammy Hunter and family friend Richard Howe — Howe kayaked the distance himself.
“If I didn’t have them with me, I know none of this would have gone together nearly as well,” Kamm said. “They were amazing, and just that I had people that were willing to spot me and help me sight was a tremendous effort.”
Kamm began the swim at Sugar Pine Point and finished exhausted on the beach near Cave Rock, swimming directly toward the sun. He swam in a wetsuit and cap, didn’t touch the boat once during the length of the swim — and said his favorite part of Tahoe to swim was in the middle when it got deeper.
“It just feels like you’re something smaller in the whole grand scheme of things,” Kamm said. “When you’re in a body of water that is 1,400 feet deep, it’s crazy to think about that and envision how far down the lake went.”
Kamm was born and raised in Baltimore, but spent time in Tahoe during the decade where his parents had a house in the area. He initially brought up the idea of swimming across the lake to his parents and girlfriend, who insisted he’d be crazy to try it.
“I played sports growing up, but I’ve never done long-distance runs or bikes or anything like that,” Kamm said.
Training for the Tahoe swim began in late February, and involved as much time swimming as possible — but didn’t have a formal schedule. Kamm first swam three-quarters of a mile at a local pool, and his last swim was five miles in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Jersey.
“That was actually a huge help,” Kamm said of the ocean training. “Around later in the afternoon when the current started picking up and the waves started getting bigger, I had already been accustomed to swimming in pretty big waves because of swimming in the ocean — especially in some of the bigger, red flag days.”
For Kamm, a crazy idea turned into an amazing experience. And while cutting through Lake Tahoe, he appreciated the journey as much as the destination.
“Just to be out there in the water all day, you get to take in the mountains and the backdrop,” Kamm said, “and to be engulfed in the whole experience was amazing.”