Mark Johnston is an American cold water swimmer, administrator, and swimming coach from Polson, Montana. He is also the creator of the Open Water Virtual Grand Slam and the Flathead Lake Open Water Swimmers.
Open Water Swimming and Coaching Career Highlights
- He is a member of the USMS Open Water Committee and the Chairman of the USMS Open Water Coaching Sub-Committee.
- he is the former head coach of the LAKE Monsters
- he is the founder of the Flathead Lake Open Water Swimmers (or FLOWSWIMMERS), a group of pool and open water swimmers located in Polson, Montana near Flathead Lake.
- he was the race director of Water Daze in Polson Bay in Flathead Lake, Montana.
- he served as one of the race directors of the Vampire Swims.
- On 7 August 2011, he completed the 10 km Horsetooth Swim in Colorado in 2 hours 46 minutes 45 seconds at the age of 50.
- On 22 July 2012, he completed the 17 km Portland Bridge Swim in Oregon in 4 hours 25 minutes 6 seconds.
- On 20 July 2014, he won the inaugural the Flathead Lake 10K at the Big Arm State Park in 3 hours 1 minutes 34 seconds and the Flathead Lake Swim with a combined time of 5 hours 26 minutes 30 seconds.
- In January 2015, he participated at the United States Winter Swimming Championships, winning 2 events and finishing in the top 3 in two other events.
- On 18 July 2015, he finished 5th overall in the Flathead Lake 10K at the Big Arm State Park in Montana in 2 hours 57 minutes 39 seconds.
- On 30 January 2016, he competed in the United States Winter Swimming Association National Championships in the 200m freestyle in New York City in 1.2°C (34.3°F) water of the La Marina venue in the Hudson River.
- On 16 July 2016, he finished 4th overall in the Flathead Lake 10K at the Big Arm State Park in Montana in 2 hours 42 minutes 41 seconds.
- Inspired by a GPS-documented swim by a grizzly bear, Johnston completed the first 15-mile Chasing the Grizzly marathon swim.
- In 2015, he set the 50m freestyle record of the Memphremagog Winter Swimming Society at the Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival in Vermont.
- In August 2018, he finished 3rd in the Mountain Swim Series Cliff Backyard Ultra Swim by completing 14 loops of a 1.5 km course (21 km cumulative total) at 2,425 meters in altitude in Wellington Lake in Bailey, Colorado amid the Rocky Mountains.
- He completed the 26.4 km Sri Chinmoy Marathon Swim from Rapperswil to Zurich in Lake Zurich, Switzerland in 2019 in 6 hours 59 minutes 35 seconds, at the age of 58.
2020 WOWSA Awards
The Open Water Virtual Grand Slam by Mark Johnston was nominated for the 2020 WOWSA Awards in the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year category with the following nomination: In the midst of a near global lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark Johnston from Flathead Lake in the state of Montana knew that he needed to do something positive and uplifting. So the race director and marathon swimmer created the Open Water Virtual Grand Slam, a multi-month catalyst and online social group that kickstarted hundreds of swimmers to join the growing global community of open water swimmers. With many pool closed and nowhere to swim, many looked at open bodies of water for the first time, but it took the attention and dedication for Johnston and other like-minded swimmers to develop and shape this new community. For organizing four competitive distances in the open water (800m, 1500m, 1.93 km and 3.96 km), for providing a low-cost means to participate and compete in something new and something fun and inspirational, and for rapidly developing and nurturing additional challenges like The Beast, an 128 km, 120-day virtual perimeter swim in Flathead Lake, the Open Water Virtual Grand Slam by Mark Johnston is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
Johnston is one of the race directors of the Vampire Swims, a series of open water swims held on 31 October. Vampire Swims are a great way to kick off the cold water, winter swimming season in those locations where swimming continues year round. Entry fee for these swims will include proof that the swimmer has donated blood within 6 weeks prior to the swim. Some venues are arranging a blood mobile to collect donations immediately after the swim. Those who cannot make a donation of blood for medical reasons can make a cash donation to the Red Cross or some other similar organization. A US$10 registration fee will also be expected of each swimmer to cover the cost of a custom, bloody-toothed swim cap and other incidental expenses with any remainder also to be donated to the Red Cross or other equivalent organizations that collect and distribute blood.
- Mark Johnston On The 2021 Open Water Virtual Grand Slam
- Krista Belanger, Eric Nilsson Win 2020 Skins Open Water Virtual Grand Slam
- Hampus Carlsson Wins 2020 Wetsuits Open Water Virtual Grand Slam
- Flathead Lake Open Water Virtual Triple Crown
- 2020 WOWSA Awards – World Open Water Swimming Offering Of The Year Nominees
- Lockdown Swimming Around The World
- Sri Chinmoy Marathon Swim Half Century Club Members
- Phillip Luebke Wins Flathead Lake Swim In Montana
- Vampire Swims
- Blood-letting Open Water Swims
- FLOW SWIMMERS
- FLOW SWIMMERS Facebook Group
- Go With The FLOW In Flathead Lake
- Polson Bay’s Water Daze
- Paula Yankauskas, Hardened Winter Swimmers Go 4 For 4
- United States Winter Swimming Association
- The Why's Of Swimming In Really Cold Water
- Chasing The Grizzly
- Blood-letting Open Water Swims
- Driven Featured In Montana
- World Open Water Swimming Association
- Open Water Swimming
- Marathon Swimming
- Aquatic Adventurers From Arran To Troon
- Marathon Swimmers Federation bio
- It's A Deal For Outdoor Swimmer(s)
- Outdoor Swimmer Magazine
- Have Fun, Do Good, Enjoy A Swim
- Last To Fail, First To Win