Seth Baetzold is an engineer by day. When he is not in the office you can find him near a body of water. This is because Baetzold is training for his upcoming swim; a 24 mile route down the St. Croix River that will take him from Stillwater to Hastings on Oct. 1.
Baetzold is a marathon swimmer. Residing in Maplewood, Minnesota, he holds impressive personal records. His distance record is consecutively swimming for 36 miles along the Minnesota/North Dakota border. His longest timed swim is 13.5 hours without a break.
“I have been swimming since I was a kid. I’ve been swimming competitively since high school,” Baetzold said.
The attempt is not for personal gain. Baetzold is raising money for the North St. Paul food shelf.
Baetzold is a native of North St. Paul. He said the organization is “a good cause” and hopes his swim will raise money for those less fortunate.
Baetzold got involved with marathon swimming when he was in college. Since he began taking marathon swimming seriously Baetzold swam in four of the five Great Lakes in multiple oceans and in lakes and rivers around the world.
“I don’t have a favorite location or attempt,” Baetzold said. “Any swim with friends or around people is my favorite.”
Baetzold will follow the rules of the Marathon Swimmers Federation, the governing body of the sport. For his swim, Baetzold must use standard equipment (swimsuit, googles, earplugs, nose clips), use an escort boat with a crew, and have an observer to verify the attempt.
“Don’t try this at home, it’s all safe and controlled. I have a crew of six people who have plenty of experience,” Baetzold explained.
Baetzold is no stranger to swimming in the St. Croix River. He had other potential routes picked out but picked the St. Croix because of his familiarity with it.
“I’ve worked in Hudson for a long time. I used to use my one hour lunch break to swim the river,” he said with a laugh.
Baetzold has been swimming three to seven miles a day, three to five times a week to train for this attempt. He estimates the swim will take him 12 to 13 hours.
Baetzold will begin his swim at 6:30 A.M. at the Stillwater Minnesota Boom Site Public Boat Launch. The swim will conclude at the Point Douglas Beach in Hastings around sunset.
“I’m a little nervous but something like this is fun. I’ve done thousands of hours but I still get nervous for any attempt,” Baetzold said.
Baetzold’s most recent marathon swim was scheduled to be an attempt across the English Channel in July. Poor weather conditions foiled his attempt but Baetzold is planning to return in a few years.
One goal of Baetzold’s swims is to inspire others. He hopes someone may see his story and be inspired to try something new and outside their comfort zone.
“Maybe someone else can try one day. If you are inspired about something you can do it,” he said.
Baetzold said anybody who wants to watch the swim can do so by finding vantage points along the river. He suggested Hudson and Prescott as potential viewing spots. He added his plans to have a tracker with the crew where people can be updated about his location.