Facebook Twitter



When he decided a year ago to make the attempt, Mike Navidomskis thought he would be the first to swim across the frigid waters of Bear Lake.

Just hours before he began the trek Saturday, he found out his attempt would not be the first. Lynn Crookston had swum across the lake in 1946.But that small disappointment didn't make the successful swim any less sweet for Navidomskis.

Navidomskis, a Davis High School history teacher, was cheered by an enthusiastic group of students, family and friends as he completed the swim Saturday afternoon. Several students rowed in four canoes alongside their teacher as he swam in the 61-degree water.

"It's been a goal of mine for a long time," said Navidomskis. "When I was young, I saw the lake and thought I would like to swim across it."

Navidomskis swam nearly eight miles, alternating a freestyle stroke with less strenuous backstrokes. His triathlete suit, similar to a wet suit but without shoulder and arm protection, helped keep him warm.

Navidomskis trained for about a year, swimming at least every other day. By summer, he was swimming 6 1/2 miles during training.

He trained at Pineview Reservoir, where he found the value of having a canoe accompany him as protection against boats and jet skis. In addition, he said, swimming is very lonely, so having the students to talk to him is a big help.

"I haven't always been a swimmer," said Navidomskis. "But the miles don't scare me. I've kind of become a long-distance swimmer. But the temperature scares me. That's a variable I don't have control over."

He swam the distance in a record 3 hours and 33 minutes.

Bear Lake is famous for being cold. Last week, Navidomskis and his wife worried about the possibility of hypothermia.

"I hope he's smart enough to get out when he gets in trouble," said Navidomskis' wife, Gail. She sat at the destination point watching through binoculars.

His interest in sports and the outdoors has kept Navidomskis busy during his summers. He tries to do something a little out of the ordinary every summer to keep in shape. Last summer, he biked to Yellowstone.

"I think it's great but crazy," said Mark Tibbitts, one of the students. Another, Anthony Mangum, said, "I think it's rad. No other teacher would do this.'

"He's an adrenaline junkie," said Brandon Wilson.

Friday night, after a TV report aired on Navidomskis' attempt, Paul Crookston, Ogden, recalled that his father, Lynn Crookston, swam the lake when he was 26.Crookston - later a dentist in Ogden for 40 years and now serving an LDS mission in Wisconsin - was waterfront director at a Boy Scout camp on the lake at the time.

It took Crookston six hours to make the swim, according to a newspaper account. He was accompanied by two couples in motor boats. "I remember him telling me he did the breast stroke and the side stroke. The water was cold, and they didn't have wet suits or anything," said his son.