Marathon Swimmer Set to Attempt 34-mile Crossing of North Idaho's Lake Pend Oreille

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The route Elaine Howley will take in her attempt to swim the length of Lake Pend Oreille will cover 34 miles and could take as long as 24 hours, should the weather get dicey. - KEOKEE PUBLISHING
  • Keokee Publishing
  • The route Elaine Howley will take in her attempt to swim the length of Lake Pend Oreille will cover 34 miles and could take as long as 24 hours, should the weather get dicey.



It's 43 miles long, 1,150 feet deep and boasts more than 100 miles of shoreline: Lake Pend Oreille, in the North Idaho Panhandle, is the largest lake in Idaho and, with 148 square miles of surface area, ranks in the top 40 largest lakes in North America.

Elaine Howley swam the infamous stretch of water from Alcatraz to San Francisco in 2010, completing the swim through 50-degree water without a wetsuit. - COURTESY, KEOKEE PUBLISHING
  • Courtesy, Keokee Publishing
  • Elaine Howley swam the infamous stretch of water from Alcatraz to San Francisco in 2010, completing the swim through 50-degree water without a wetsuit.


In a history-making attempt Wednesday, July 30, Boston-based ultra marathon swimmer Elaine Howley, 36, is set to swim nearly the entire length of the lake, in a 34-mile, nonstop solo effort that will take her an estimated 17-20 hours—assuming the weather cooperates. If it doesn't, the swim could take as long as 24 hours.



According to Sandpoint Online, Howley is more than up to the task: She has completed solo crossings of the Catalina and English channels and circumnavigated Manhattan Island, as well as earned ice swimmer certification for a 1-mile ocean swim of 41-degree Boston Harbor in December 2012. She did not wear a wetsuit. In training for the Pend Oreille swim, Howley covered 38 miles in a 24-hour swim in Lake Cochituate, Mass.



“After that most recent great experience, I’m feeling really confident about this upcoming big swim,” Howley told Sandpoint Online. “It’s a total privilege to be invited to do this swim, and I’m very grateful for the community support I’ve already had in planning the logistics.”



Dubbed "Elaine's Big Swim," her attempt to cover the length of Lake Pend Oreille will begin at its southernmost tip and finish in Sandpoint, in the north. She will be assisted by a team, including her husband, Mark Howley, stationed on a powerboat and via kayak that will follow her route across the water. 



Keep tabs on Howley's progress through photo and video updates on Sandpoint Online's Facebook page.