I set out to do a Thru-Swim/Run of the Enchantments Traverse - incorporating the five lakes that run directly alongside of the Enchantments Traverse trail, but not any lakes that would require a deviation from the main trail. The trail and four of the five lakes were sight-unseen for me (I had only ever hiked to and swum in Colchuck before this FKT day), which made the swim/lake entries and exits a bit more complicated, not knowing exactly what I would encounter (e.g., cliffs, rocks, wooded areas, depth of water) getting in and getting out of the water.
I executed this route with mighty support from Eric Yan (who, by the way, was fresh off the FKT for an Enchantments Double).
My main gear included knee length SwimRun wetsuit from Roka, double swim caps (for cold water), tinted swim goggles, and the typical running gear one needs for a full day. Though SwimRun competitions are typically raced with paddles and pull buoy, I went without both. I recommend a hydration vest that has straps to tie down the wetsuit, especially for the longer run periods between lakes. I carried my wetsuit in my hydration vest straps (instead of wearing it) all the way up to Colchuck Lake. Then wore it for the swim across Colchuck Lake, then took it off again for the ascent of Aasgard Pass. From there until exiting the final lake (Nada Lake), I had on, at a minimum, the bottom part of the wetsuit. Then removed it for the final descent from Nada Lake to the end. For some lakes, I swam in the shoes, which did slow me down but also saved time on the entry and exit having to take off/put on socks and shoes. For Inspiration Lake, I kept them on - it was the shortest swim. For most of the others, I zipped them into the front of my wetsuit in case I would have a rocky exit and would need them to get out. I was largely just doing trial and error on gear strategy as I went. See Upper Snow Lake details below for more on that.
Upper Snow Lake was the longest swim. If I were doing this again, I would have hugged the eastern shore of the lake the whole way to avoid getting blasted in the face by the wind. It would have added distance, but would have felt much safer and would have been more comfortable for me. I would have also put my shoes in my wetsuit before starting. Since it was such a long swim, the time saved by not wearing shoes during this swim is worth the time required to take them off, at least for me it would have been. Instead, I came to that realization mid-lake and found myself taking off my shoes and socks in the middle of a deep lake and zipping them into my wetsuit.
Nada Lake was the coldest of the lakes by far and I longed for swim booties and neoprene gloves for that one. Nada Lake was also quite memorable for me because there was a Mama Bear and a cub to greet me upon my exit. I had to stay in place at the water's edge for about 10 minutes until they passed far away for me to jump back on the trail.
As one can imagine, I looked a bit funny and caught a lot of people's attention running along with a wetsuit on. That made for a super fun day, having many hikers asking what I was up to, and receiving many lakeside encouragement from backpackers.
It would be super fun to attempt this route unsupported, especially if logistics and gear creativity are your thing. Please feel free to reach out to me via Strava route or Instagram if you want extra insight that would help you execute a great day out there. I learned a lot, and would be happy to pass along that information to the next SwimRunner.