Going the Distance

JoAn Hartzell swimming at sunrise

Dana Marrs

Before sunrise, while we all are sleeping, JoAn Hartzell is swimming. She swims every morning—every morning. Weekends. Christmas. Thanksgiving. Daily.

It began one day in early 2016 as she was making plans to get in shape for swimming to take a trip to Hawaii with her son. At first, she said she wondered if she could swim the length of the pool, then wondered if she could swim back. From a simple beginning, JoAn found her smooth, consistent style and built up to swimming about a kilometer a day—20 laps of a pool. In the early days, she counted laps and ran through every device and practice to keep count of the laps. Then she realized that she could count minutes and free her mind for more fascinating topics than counting. In 45 minutes, she completes 20 laps.

JoAn and I are from Washington State, and I asked her if she had been swimming long enough to have covered the distance from Chandler to Long Beach, Wash.

If you want to calculate the distance with us, here are the things to know. The pool is 75.2 feet long. JoAn swims 20 laps (up and back) each morning. She has been swimming daily since June 1, 2016, and for the purpose of this calculation, will swim daily until May 1, 2023. She has missed 57 days due to vacations, illness, and pool closures. Google Maps calculates that Chandler to Long Beach, Wash., is 1407 miles. Our calculations will be shared on page 27.

So, today, before you woke and long before you thought about what you would do for exercise today, JoAn was swimming in a steady, determined pace. She is fond of saying that “a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single stroke.”

Answer to Calculations:

Distance from Chandler to Long Beach, Wash. = 1407 miles

June 1, 2016, to May 1, 2023 = 2525 days

Vacations, illness, pool closures = 57 days

Total days swimming = 2468 days

Pool is 75.2 feet x 40 lengths each day = 3008 feet per day

3008 feet X 2468 days divided by 5280 = 1406 miles