Issyk Kul popular these days

In the last few months I’ve fielded calls and emails from three incredible swimmers asking me questions about swimming my most favorite lake in the world. I’m talking about lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan, of course!

That image above is the lake. The lake is at just below one mile elevation. Oh, and the lake is the second largest alpine like in the world behind lake Titicaca. That lake is over 100 miles in length!

Only a few people have swum across the lake. Yours truly was #2, and #1 on the route I chose.

My crossing, 2016

The first guy who swam across was Akhmed Anarbaev. He swam across the eastern side.

Ахмед Анарбаев

Mr. Anarbaev and three other former Soviet swimmers swam a relay across the width in the early ’90s.

In the 3 years since my swim, the locals have held an annual swim competition covering my route. Most of the swimmers have not followed marathon swimming rules (wetsuits, touching the kayak), so they’re not listed in the Issyk Kul crossing list. In fact, I think we’re still at 5 or 6 swimmers only, 2 of them female, who have crossed it by the rules. The fastest time is still held by Sarah D’Antoni with a time of 4:43.01.

But look at this wonderful lake! There’s so many possible routes there. And since only one person has swum the eastern route, that’s ripe for new swimmers. The width has never been done solo. At 30-something miles, it’s not impossible. Especially in this day and age when we have the likes of Sarah Thomas in the world.

The three swimmers I’ve been talking to are uber-experienced and capable of almost anything. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing from little ol’ Kyrgyzstan sometime soon!

2 thoughts on “Issyk Kul popular these days”

  1. what are the conditions generally like as far as water temperature, visibility, boat traffic, escort, marine life?
    thanks!

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