Long-distance swimmer swims 18.5 miles without stopping in Lake Coeur d’Alene

Bruce Gordon, 49, of Denver, Col., is a long-distance swimmer looking to do what has been done just 19 times before: cross the 26-mile Kaiwi Channel connecting the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Molokai.

To prepare for his historic crossing, he swam 18.5 miles in Lake Coeur d’Alene, Id., starting at Harrison and landing at Coeur d’Alene Beach. The swim began Friday at 8:20 a.m. and ended at 8:49 p.m. on Friday night. A handful of supporters and surprised beach goers were there to greet him as he stepped out of the water and onto the beach.

“It was a big relief to get out of the water,” Gordon said. “I didn’t really know what was going to happen since I’d never gone that far. I finished without being too tired and I was very lucid, and that surprised me. I’m already anxious to be swimming again.”

The Kaiwi Channel is one of the Oceans Seven: the seven most difficult open water ocean crossings. No individual has ever completed all seven crossings. Huge waves, strong currents, roaming sharks, and stinging jellyfish make the Kaiwi Channel crossing exceptionally dangerous.

Because a crossing is a sanctioned swim, Gordon must follow several rules, all of which he observed on his swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene. He must swim from shore to shore, which means he cannot use any swim aids other than goggles, and he cannot touch the boat or anything attached to the boat during his swim. He must literally walk into the ocean, swim 26 miles, and walk out of the ocean.

“I try to stay as close to English Channel rules as possible. Goggles, suit, and lots of water.”

Gordon originally began training in 2008 but suffered a debilitating case of shingles that left him physically weak and unable to swim even 500 yards. He resumed training at the beginning of 2011, and his 18.5-mile swim on Friday was the longest swim he had ever attempted.

Gordon faces additional challenges, too. He lives in Colorado and is unable to train in the ocean itself, and like many long-distance swimmers, he must work a full-time job to support himself and his family. Most of his training is completed by swimming hundreds or thousands of laps in a pool.

Gordon is supported and sponsored by Life Shotz, a natural nutrition drink made by 21TEN, a company based in Coeur d’Alene. A team from 21TEN was on hand to support Gordon as he swam in Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Working in shifts with several small boats, Gordon’s 21TEN support crew offered him food, drink and encouragement. They were also on standby should Gordon have needed assistance, and they waved away boats and made sure he stayed on course.

During the swim, Gordon rested by treading water, and he drank liquefied food, water, and Life Shotz tossed to him by his support crew. It was his first long, supported swim, and Gordon had a few kinks to work out.

“It went slower than I thought,” Gordon said. “It wasn’t that I was swimming slower, but it was more the nuance of stopping to feed and fuel up. I stopped almost 40 times, and my stops were bit longer than I had anticipated. Together they added almost an hour to my time. That’s a lot of time treading water.”

Gordon, who grew up in Hawaii and attended the same school as President Obama, has dreamed of swimming the Kaiwi Channel since he was 12. That was when his older sister’s boyfriend became one of the first people to cross the channel.

Gordon’s Kaiwi Channel swim will benefit the Fisher House Foundation, a charity that helps military families to stay close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.


Life Shotz is natural nutrition drink made by 21TEN, a privately owned company headquartered in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Life Shotz recently received an unpaid, unsolicited endorsement from Phil Jackson, former NBA coach of the L.A. Lakers and Chicago Bulls. Life Shotz helps increase energy, boost mood, sharpen mental clarity, and promote anti-aging with powerful blends of vitamins and antioxidants. 21TEN is backed by Oxyfresh and shares a corporate office in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. You can find more information about 21TEN and Life Shotz by visiting www.21TEN.com, and more information about the Phil Jackson endorsement is available HERE.

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