Avoiding powerful currents and dangerous sea life, on August 3rd, 2022 Lori King became the first person (once certified) to swim across the Montauk Channel. Slicing through the surging, frigid waters with minimal protection—swimsuit, swim cap, and goggles—King completed her historic swim in 8 hours, 39 minutes, 45 seconds.
Judging distance over water is difficult. This is certainly an understatement, but at some point, while staring across the Montauk Channel, Lori King and her longtime friend Amanda Fenner had the thought to swim across to Block Island. Not the first to attempt the swim, she was the first to finish the journey, buoyed by a dedicated team.
Like on-ground running competitions, marathons in the water are defined as a swim of more than 10 kilometers (6.2 mi). At 23.9 miles, King’s journey equals almost 4 marathon swims. Once the Marathon Swimmers Federation approves, Lori King will officially be the first human to swim from Block Island to Montauk.
Lori and her team were challenged by logistical hurdles and coordination, like temperature, lunar phases, tides, and sea life. This isn’t the first time that King has attempted a staggering feat. In 2013, she was 21 miles into a 24-mile trek when she was pulled from the water due to two encircling sharks. Again this time, she had close encounters with sharks, but her support team blocked them and the swim was able to continue.
The charting team was integral to the historic swim. Her J-shaped route, necessary to stay clear of powerful ocean currents, added 10 miles to the path. While it was up to Lori to ensure that she swam fast enough to avoid changing tides, her team of experts had to chart a path that avoided pitfalls. There is an upcoming film that will document this historic feat.
As an Ultra Marathon Open Water Swimmer, Lori has competed in swims worldwide. Some swims she designed and created. Lori began open water swimming in 2004 and started her OWS career in 2008 competing in a local competition in the Montauk Swim Challenge in 2011. Lori was the first woman to ever circumnavigate the island of Bermuda and was named one of the World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women in 2019 by the World Open Water Swimming Association. Lori has competed in more than 25 open water marathon swim competitions, consistently placing in the 1st and 2nd place for ultra-marathon swim races. Lori lives in Rockville Center, NY with her husband Michael and their two children Ryan & Anna.
From the beginning, Lori understood that an undertaking as ambitious and dangerous as this would require a committed team—you know the adage, it takes a (fishing) village. This achievement was realized with the invaluable support from a 10-person team of highly specialized and skilled technicians to complete the swim safely and successfully.
Team Lori King:
- Amanda Fenner, lead organizer and longtime swim coach on the East End.
- Sierra Joan Davidson, the youngest woman to cross Montauk Channel westbound in a kayak.
- Sinéad FitzGibbon, in-water support, paddled a prone board flanking Lori with the tandem kayak (the first woman to do so).
- Marcie Honercamp, lead observer for the Westbound swim.
- Janine Serell, certified Marathon Swimming Federation Official Observer.
- Dr. Rondi Davies, provided digital tide charting and route planning.
- Tim Treadwell, swimmer support, serves as the Senior Harbormaster on the East Hampton Marine Patrol and has been helping Lori since the beginning of her open-water swim career.
- Mike Martisen, lead boat captain, worked with the charting team to keep everyone on the planned route.
- Richard Fenner, Amanda’s husband provided a complete meteorological forecast, current conditions, and accurate location of potentially significant adverse sea life.
- Mark Fischer, assisted in fending off sharks and incoming boats while transporting valuable gear and team members.
- Drew Maloney, Montauk photographer and filmmaker who documented the historic swim.
- Dan Farnham, advisor for route setting and tide consultation.