San Franciscans Are Tahoe's Toughest Swimmers

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The competition to be the toughest polar bear swimmers at Lake Tahoe was won by a couple of San Franciscans.

John Ottersberg, 41, and Candace Kelly, 33, won the 14th annual Polar Bear Swim on Saturday through the 40-degree waters of the Sierra Nevada lake.

Both are members of the Dolphin Club of San Francisco, where water temperatures get as cold as the low 50s.

Ottersberg, a high school teacher who is training to swim the 21-mile English Channel, was a repeat winner.

"This is a big deal because this will make the English Channel seem warm," he said.

Kelly, an attorney, improved on her third-place finish a year ago.

"(The swim) is kind of crazy ... (but) short and doable," she said.

Competitors had to walk through a foot or so of snow in swimsuits to reach the lake from Gar Woods Grill & Pier, which hosts the event.

Under partly cloudy skies, they then swam 125 yards out into the lake before returning to shore.

The event on Tahoe's north shore attracted 15 male and six female competitors, along with hundreds of spectators.

It helped kick off the weeklong North Tahoe Snow Festival, which also will feature Mardi Gras-style parties and the fastest bartender contest.


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