Canyon Lake

From Openwaterpedia
S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge competitors in the inaugural race in Arizona including Dave Barra, Janet Harris and Kent Nicholas
South African Roger Finch on right with S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge race director Kent Nicholas on left

Canyon Lake is a reservoir in the state of Arizona. It is location of the second stage swim of the S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge and is located at 1,660 feet (505m). It is formed by the Mormon Flat Dam and is 380 feet long, 224 feet high and was built between 1923-25.

The dam is named after nearby Mormon Flat, a place where settlers from Utah stopped to camp. Canyon Lake, with a surface area of 950 acres (380 ha), is the smallest of four lakes created along the Salt River. It is within the Superstition Wilderness of Tonto National Forest and is a popular recreation area. Fish populating the lake include rainbow trout, large mouth bass, small mouth bass, yellow bass, crappie, sunfish, catfish and walleye. Wildlife in the area includes big horn sheep, deer and javelina that roam freely in this area of the national forest area. The swim begins at the buoy line below Horse Mesa dam and ends +/- 9 miles at the buoy line protecting the Mormon Flat dam.

Open Water Swimming

  • It was named one of the World's Best Open Water Swimming Towns.
  • It is site of the S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge, a 4-day stage swim in Arizona in the Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, Apache Lake, and Roosevelt Lake organized by Kent Nicholas. In search of a unique open water swim challenge in Arizona, the four reservoirs on the Salt River provide that unique opportunity. If Jack Kerouac wrote a story about the Dharma Bums swimming from dam to dam across a series of lakes in the rugged desert wild, this may have been the inspiration. The brainchild of Mesa, Arizona attorney Kent Nicholas, S.C.A.R. stands for Saguaro, Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt lakes. It's "a bit of a rogue swim" because there were no permits, licenses, insurance, coast guard support, law enforcement approval, or any other "permission" sought from anyone. They hiked, boated, swam, laughed and swam again without letting the obstacles and hurdles of modern life prevent them from swimming more than 40 miles in a beautiful environment.


Wall Street Journal - June 2012

Kent Nicholas, a criminal lawyer, staged "a bit of a rogue swim" over four weekends in four lakes as part of his training regimen for the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, which he completed in June in 8 hours, 8 minutes. He called it the Arizona SCAR Swim Challenge, for Saguaro, Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt lakes. At Lake Roosevelt, the group swam at night with glow sticks around their wrists and ankles "to make it more interesting." Nicholas intends to stage it again next year and make it a recognized event.


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