Lake Baikal swim – Update Swimmers Wanted

Pavel Kuznetsov, who along with Yuri Kudinov and Natalia Pankina will feature in the 2009 Great Channel Swim, is planning to host the first 5 – 15km km open water swim event in late July or early August in Lake Baikal in southern Siberia. The lake contains one fifth of the world’s freshwater supply and is a World Heritage site.

Several English Channel swimmers from Great Britain and several Russians plan to attend the swim which will be named in honour of Lynne Cox. Pavel is planing a week long tour around the lake for up to 15 people to acclimatize to the 10-19°C water (50-66°F).

Click for link to video on Lake Baikal.

Update Mar 09 via Pavel Kuznetsov

Dear swimmer,

My coach Sergey Lenivkin, my swimming friends and I, Pavel Kuznetsov, are organising an exceptional event.

We are looking for a group of 10-15 people to make a pilot swim tour around Baikal during 25 July – 1 August 2009.

You can see two possible alternative routes around Baikal we are thinking about at the moment.

To the best of our knowledge it is the first swim tour of this type.

21 year ago – in August 1988 – Lynne Cox swam 18K in Listvenichnaya Bay from Tolsty Cape to small town of Listvyanka. Her heroic attempt is still in memory of Russians. Since that time one Japanese swimmer crossed Baikal (important note: in a thick wet suit). We do not plan any crossings of Baikal (at least this summer). The idea of this tour is to test various distances in diffrent locations around the lake from 5 to 15K both as solo swims and/or relay swims.

Water temperature of Baikal surface differs a lot from one place to another even in the peak of the season. It might be 19-20 in shallow parts (like Small Sea, or Barguzin Bay or Chivyrkuj Bay) and only 8-10 somewhere in the mid of lake where its depth might be more than a mile!

We’d like to identify acceptable places with water at least 14 degrees, or better 15-16-17 degrees by Celsius. We are open water swimmers but not ice swimmers!

Our superplan is to find a proper distance for an international annual swim race starting from 2010 appropriate from sportiing, logistical and weather/safety points of view. We will be really grateful if you will help us by your participation in pilot event this summer!

This time we do not plan any races as such – it is more of swimming tourism in one of the beautiful wild nature places of the world. That does not exclude some racing between individual swimers or relays in course of the week depending on the abilities of our group.

You should understand that it is rather remote part of Russia (Eastern Siberia, mostly with status of national park) with not so developed tourist infrustructure. Sometimes it may not offer much comforts but it is worth going there – you will be definitely rewarded by Baikal for this!

Depending on the number of participants we plan to hire one or two big boats (with sleeping places) to move around the lake. We do not plan to spend nights on the boats except one night on Bolshoy Ushkany Island. We plan to reserve places at camping sites or tourist hotels.

Both routes under discussion include swims in so called ‘Small Sea’ (Maloye More) – a part of Baikal lake betwen Western coast and Island of Olkhon.

Both routes include also swim near Peninsula of Svyatoy Nos (St. Nose) and to Ushkan’ii Islands. These are amazing fantastic places! We will send you a detailed day-by-day program at the beginning of April.

We plan to culminate a swimming week with big swim – one of the possibilities is to follow (full or shorter version depending on water temperature) the Lynne Cox 18K swim route near Listvyanka.

In case of your interest:

  1. Provide minimum info about you as an open-water swimmer – your experience, speed, tolerance to cold water etc. And a couple of words about yourself. Are you serious enough to meet the Baikal challenge?
  2. Ability to attend this swim tour on the above dates: 25 July (Saturday) – day of arrival, 01 Aug (Saturday afternoon) / 02 Aug (Sunday) – days of departure.
  3. Starting point will be city of Ulan-Ude, a centre of buddhism in Russia. Then we go by bus around 300 km till the lake coast and … start to swim 🙂
    It is not clear yet about the end of our trip – will it be Ulan-Ude again or Irkutsk, the other big city on the west side of Baikal. Anyway both cities are connected to Moscow by a number of daily 6-hour long flights for 6-10 000 roubles one way (170-280 USD one-way). We may help you with reservation of domestic tickets for these flights. But international flight arrangements to Russia are your responsibility. Please check prices and make reservations accordingly via or similar sites.
  4. The main costs (as usual for open water) will be related to hiring boat (or boats) with pilots which will be our home-on-water most of the week. For this reason we need some deposit money – to pay advances for the boat(s), ground transportation and accommodation. We can tell you the precise budget per participant and size of the deposit at the beginning of April (when we will know for sure our route after receiving info from meteorologists’ database).
  5. Russian visa issue might be a real issue but … ‘nothing great is easy’ (Captain Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel).

Will be glad to answer any of your questions and hope to meet you on Baikal in July!

Swimmingly yours,

Pavel Kuznetsov,
Moscow, Russia

For further information contact