Ellenstein Attempts 65-Mile Swim For Parkinson’s Awareness

Photo Courtesy: Lauren Kehn

By Allison Pierce, Swimming World College Intern

From July 25 to 26 ultra-distance athlete Adam Ellenstein will attempt to swim 105 kilometers (65 miles) non-stop across Okanagan Lake, in British Columbia Canada. The swim will raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease through the Davis Phinney Foundation whose mission is to help people with Parkinson’s to live well today.

Last fall, Ellenstein swam 30 kilometers across Lake Winnipeg to train for this upcoming swim. At just 39 years old, Ellenstein is also a Race Across America qualifier and has completed both IronMan and UltraMan triathlons.

If completed, Ellenstein’s swim will also achieve a Guinness World Record for the fastest non-stop swim of the length of Okanagan Lake, which he estimates will take 40 hours to complete. Ellenstein will stick to a “structured nutrition plan” to keep his energy up since he will burn about 10,000 total calories during those 40 hours.

“Proper nutrition will keep my body and mind fueled for the challenge,” Ellenstein said. “There’s no reason I can’t feel good for the entire swim, and nutrition is a big part of that. The goal is to feel good!”

Although the swim has many physical challenges, Ellenstein believes a good mentality is equally as important. “A marathon swim is long and your perspective changes many times over the miles. At a certain point, the swim becomes more mental than physical, and I’ve been training that aspect as well,” Ellenstein explained.

Not only will Ellenstein be swimming continuously for almost two days, he will do so in 70-degree water– about 10 degrees colder than a standard swimming pool.

“If I get cold, we’ll make adjustments to keep me warm [such as] swimming faster, drinking warm fluids, adding a neoprene hood, etc. We’ve practiced all those details in training and during my swim across Lake Winnipeg last fall,” Ellenstein said.

In 2015, Ellenstein’s Aunt Susan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. His aunt’s diagnosis inspired Ellenstein to begin training for the 65-mile swim. “Aunt Susan has always been one of my number one fans. As Susan learned more about her diagnosis, she discovered that exercise is one of the most critical aspects of living well with Parkinson’s,” Ellenstein explained. “We put our heads together, and VictorySwim105 was born. It’s a swim to encourage those with Parkinson’s to take up the challenge of exercise. In fact, Susan has trained to swim portions of the swim alongside me!”

Adam Ellenstein & Susan Scarlett 3

Photo Courtesy: Lauren Kehn

While Ellenstein’s attempt to break a world record may seem like an individual effort, it is really a collective effort. Ellenstein explains that his crew is essential for him both mentally and logistically.

“The crew assists me with practical aspects of the swim: arranging the logistics, providing navigation, and handing me nutrition. This practical aspect allows me to stay focused on swimming. My wife and crew chief, Amelia, often jokes ‘your job is to swim and eat; that’s all,” Ellenstein explained. “In addition, I draw upon the energy they bring and the enthusiasm they share to continue during the most difficult moments in the swim. Their encouragement is a well that I can draw upon when my own reserves are low,” Ellenstein noted.

Lauren Kehn, Victory Crew Manager at the Davis Phinney Foundation added, “We are so appreciative of Adam’s efforts as a member of the Foundation’s Victory Crew in honor of his Aunt Susan and people with Parkinson’s around the world. It is individuals like Adam and Susan that make our work possible and help us reach more people with Parkinson’s with our life changing programs, tools, and inspiration.”

If you are interested in supporting Ellenstein’s swim and Parkinson’s disease, there are a few ways to get involved:

  1. “Swim Along” with Ellenstein: Take a picture of yourself swimming anywhere and post it to your favorite social medium with the hashtag #VictorySwim105
  2. Donate or sign-up to swim along at VictorySwim105.
Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x