, Director of Swimmable Water Programs
Posted: September 7, 2016 at 10:50 am

Photo by Jim Handcock

In an effort to describe the absurd beauty of their state Montanans have taken to referring to Montana as “The Last Best Place.” Montana was named for its mountains. There are over one hundred named mountain ranges in Montana. And where there are mountain ranges there are headwaters. True to form, Montana’s mountain fed lakes and rivers fit right in with the staggering beauty of the landscape for which the state is known.

Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. It’s born in the Canadian Rockies, in Northwest corner of Montana. It’s headwaters flow through Glacial National Park, and the North Fork Headwaters as the Flathead River. The lake’s cold, deep waters are so clear that kayaks and open water swimmer look more like their flying, than swimming, over the lake bed. Flathead lake is reputed to be one of the cleanest lakes in the world.

Mark Johnston, US Masters Swim coach and the founder of Flathead Lake Open Water Swimmers (FLOW Swimmers), wants to back Flathead’s reputation for clean water with scientific evidence. There is currently no recreational water quality monitoring on Flathead Lake. The lake is a huge draw for local and visiting recreational water users, such as the Flathead Open Water Swimmers. Testing the quality of water is incredibly important in keeping it swimmable, especially if despite appearances, there are water quality issues affecting the lake.

Johnston is currently raising funds to start a weekly monitoring program next summer (2017). He aims to start testing water quality at 3 of Flathead Lakes’s most popular swim beaches around Polson:″>City Park, Riverside Park, and Boettcher Park. The monitoring program will be run in collaboration the University of Montana’s Bio Research Station, which is located on the lake. Johnston’s aim is to have the program up and running in July, when the water is warm enough for swimming.

The FLOW Swimmers’ pontoon describes Johnston’s commitment to a swimmable Flathead Lake: ALL IN

Johnston’s love of the lake and of swimming is palpable. This kind of passion for swimmable water is contagious, and we are thrilled to welcome him and FLOW Swimmers to Swim Guide.

Welcome FLOW Swimmers! We’re ALL IN as well.

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