Today, Andreas Fath plans to go through the locks at Guntersville Dam by early afternoon. This will be the first of four dams he will be swimming through in Alabama.
Guntersville Dam was built in 1935. The nearby town, Guntersville, was named after John Gunter. John Gunter was a Scottish settler, and he founded the town of Guntersville shortly after the American Revolution.
Guntersville Dam is one of three hydroelectric dams in northern Alabama. Tennessee Valley Authority built these dams, in part, to help navigate the Tennessee River. The construction of these dams made the Tennessee River a 652 mile long river highway. Previous to these dams and lakes, it was not possible to travel the river in its entirety.
Approaching the dam, Andreas has been swimming through Guntersville Lake. While lakes are already challenging to swim through due to the lack of current, there have been additional challenges.
Yesterday, Martin Knoll, TenneSwim’s U.S. project director, described some of these challenges:
“Some of the earlier swimming through the Sequatchie Valley was very straight, and that was hard on Andreas. He likes to fixate on a visual goal, like a river bend, one or two miles out. But when the river is straight, his goals can be far off. The other day when he was swimming in northern Alabama, you could see six miles! Then it seems like he’s hardly moving and the goal is an eternity. He much prefers meander bends.Tomorrow should be more winding. That’s good.”
Yesterday’s conditions were particularly challenging. With strong headwinds and two foot waves, the conditions were less than ideal. However, Andreas has an even bigger support crew with him on the boat now. On Tuesday, Andreas’ wife, Nicola, and two sons arrived in the U.S. Yesterday, Nicola and two of his sons, Leo and Enzo, all swam with Andreas at various times, and Andreas managed to power through the tough conditions, swimming 17 miles. Because he swam more than 20 miles on other days, he remains right on track.
Martin Knoll noted, “That means we should be on track to be at Ditto Landing near Huntsville by 11 a.m. Saturday. The plan is for Mimi Hughes [who swam the Tennessee River over the course of 5 years a few years ago] to meet Andreas and swim into Ditto Landing with him.
“We’re coming up on the halfway point for the Tenneswim. It will probably be right after his planned lunch stop at Ditto Landing. The halfway point—mile 326—is 6.5 miles below Ditto Landing. So we expect to hit it on Saturday. That’s a big milestone.”