Skip to main content

West Valley City Journal

Hunter grad swims length of Bear Lake and climbs tallest mountain in lower 48

Sep 01, 2021 03:55PM ● By Greg James

Mike Peters and his wife Courtney celebrate after his 19- mile swim of Bear Lake. (Photo courtesy of Mike Peters)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

In the stealth of night former Hunter High School swimmer Mike Peters swam the length of Bear Lake. The swim followed his ascent of Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

“It was a big relief,” Peters said. “I had been working towards this for about a year. It was cool to walk out of the water and know that my body was able to do something like that. At that moment to realize the work that goes into swimming, not only my work, but the others that supported me and helped me along the way.”

The end of July was quite a check mark in his bucket list.

On Tuesday, July 27, he and some family members hiked 22 miles round trip to the top of Mount Whitney in California, 14,500 feet in elevation. It is the tallest peak in the lower 48 states. Four days later he set out to swim the length of Bear Lake, nearly 19 miles. 

“It was something I have always wanted to do (the hike). My wife’s family got a permit and we did it,” Peters said. “Courtney (his wife) was not a huge fan of doing them both in the same week, but fortunately it worked out great.”

As a high school swimmer Peters swam mostly short distance and relay races. Open water swimming was not something he ever tried.

“I never even knew that this stuff existed,” Peters said. “Last year I was picking up swimming again in January. Then when COVID hit they closed all the pools. I wanted to continue to swim. I started swimming in a lake close to my home and after research, I realized how cool this stuff was.” 

The Bear Lake swim started at 9:16 p.m. off North Beach State Park in Idaho. It continued to Rendezvous Beach State Park on the south end of the lake. In total it took him 11 hours and 39 minutes. 

Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW) supported the marathon swim by providing a chase boat and pilot along with an observer. Courtney was able to observe from the boat and helped with feedings and water breaks.

Bear Lake was a close and convenient place for him to swim. Swimming at night helps provide safety because the water is usually more calm and there are no recreation boaters on the lake.

“Towards the end I said I did not want any water to drink, but they made sure I kept safe and made me eat and drink along the way. I am grateful for everyone’s support and help. It really is a team effort,” Peters said. 

The events of the week were not the easiest for his family.

“We had the lowest of lows and the highest of highs,” Peter’s father Tim said. “We were beyond thrilled to see Mike and Courtney sitting in the boat as it approached the marina. I felt jubilation. It was an incredible goal he conquered. He was safe, and I was so happy for him. The sun was shining on our entire family as we celebrated his victory.”

Peters is the ninth person to complete the swim of Bear Lake. It was documented and confirmed by SLOW. He did not encounter any wild animals or have a fish attack him.

“I cannot confirm or deny the existence of the Bear Lake monster,” Peters said.

He is working on setting a date to swim Lake Tahoe next summer and is scheduled to compete in some smaller Arizona swims. Eventually he might try to swim around Coronado Island, but has not established a timeline for that accomplishment.