13-year-old becomes youngest person to complete 12-mile swim across Lake Tahoe


(CNN) – A California teen has become the youngest person to complete what’s known as the “Godfather” swim across Lake Tahoe. And he completed the 12-mile swim in less than seven hours.

“We still say that every day, ‘he did what?’ That seems like a daily occurrence with him. He did what?” said Jillian Savage, the teen’s mom.

James Savage, 13, swam the true-width of Lake Tahoe last week from Cave Rock to the Grand Avenue Dock near Florida Lock on the west shore. All 12 miles of it.

“One day my boat pilot took me across Lake Tahoe and I have liked swimming there so I thought of doing lengths and stuff across it and I have done two out of three now,” James said.

Lake Tahoe isn’t James’ only feat.

“He does Golden Gate Bridge every year, he does Alcatraz every year, there is a little one-miler in Lake Tahoe that he does every year,” Jillian said.

“I have also done the length of San Luis Reservoir, which was 7.3 miles,” James said.

“That was his first marathon, legal marathon swim, first person to swim across San Luis Reservoir,” Jillian said. “I don’t know what made him fall in love with it. When he was younger and he said mom I want to swim from Alcatraz, we kind of laughed in his face. I mean who entertains that idea and then three days later, he did it and he did it well.”

These long-distance swims don’t happen without a lot of practice and determination.

“Usually we start up slower, like on Mondays, we’ll start with two to three miles, just if he has had the weekend off, we will give him a couple of miles. And then as the week progresses it gets more and more, and then Fridays are his big day, where he has a 10 mile perimeter loop of the lake. We just follow the shoreline and do the entire perimeter,” Jillian said.

His swim partner is always right by his side.

“I follow him in a kayak every day, yes, we don’t like to send him out alone,” Jillian said.

James already has his eyes set on a new goal.

“Right now, my next goal is the perimeter of Coronado, which is 10 miles, er 12 miles,” he said.

“He gets these bright ideas, we kind of call them his stupid ideas, and we roll with it. If that’s what he wants to do, then we will do what we can to make it happen, he could be doing a lot worse at 13,” Jillian said.

After finishing the swim, James took an hour long nap and then spent several hours riding his bike.

Next he will start training for a 21-mile swim with the goal of becoming the youngest person to complete the Tahoe Triple Crown.


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