What is the water temperature?
Real-time water temperature in Lake Tahoe - see "Water Temp 0.5m"
The prior winter's snowfall and subsequent runoff impacts how long it takes for the lake to warm-up. In 2017, we had a heavy winter and as such, in July and August we could still see some snow on the surrounding mountains and water temperatures hovered in the 66-67F (18.8-19.4C) range in August with cooler waters in July.
In 2018, we had mild amounts of snow and by summer, little to no snow could be seen and water temperatures were in the upper 60's with some swimmers getting 68-72F (20-22C) water temperatures their entire swim.
In June and early July, water temperatures may still be too cold for some distance swimmers with water temperatures still in the mid to upper 50'sF (12-15C).
When is the best time to swim in Lake Tahoe?
The best time for a marathon swim in Lake Tahoe is mid-July thru mid- to late-August.
In June and early July, water temperatures may still be too cold for some distance swimmers with water temperatures still in the mid to upper 50'sF (12-15C). By mid-July, the longer, warmer days help warm the surface temperature of the lake to the mid-60's (17-20C). By late August, winds can be more unpredictable, coupled with cooler days and nights.
Are there currents?
Yes! Lake Tahoe has two major gyres and numerous smaller gyres that disappear and reappear depending on the winds. These gyres can push and pull a swimmer, forward, backwards, or laterally. Combine this with upwelling and winds, and Lake Tahoe will tell you she is not a simple lake to conquer.
What conditions should I expect?
Train for the worst and hope for the best!
Conditions range from flat and glassy to windy with white caps and chop. Portions of the lake have interesting gyres, coupled with upwelling that can toss a swimmer around.
Lake Tahoe is not a simple lake. Do not dismiss her as such.
You can expect to swim in the dark and hopefully in sunny weather as well!
What about altitude?
Lake Tahoe is 6,225 feet above sea level. The altitude can wreak havoc with some swimmers!
Complaints range from headaches, nausea, lack of appetite, gas, leg or muscle cramps while swimming. Swimmers have also experienced vomiting, disorientation (especially during night swimming) and shortness of breath.
To mitigate the impact of altitude, many swimmers choose to arrive four days early to allow their body to acclimate. Others arrive the night before and swim the next day, hoping to get the swim done before the impact of altitude really hits them.