Chris and I recently enjoyed another fabulous trip to the USA. Our plans had us swimming from Anacapa Island to the mainland a 20k or 12 mile stretch of ocean in the Santa Barbara Island group California on the west coast of the USA before flying to the east coast to participate in the annual 12 mile Swim Around Charleston.
As is so often the case in open water what you plan isn’t always what you get. Chris and I had hoped for a gentle, fun swim together during our Anacapa crossing before flying across to Charleston.
While planning our trip from Australia we had wonderful support during our email communications with Scott Zornig of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association who couldn’t have been more helpful. Our friend Barbara Held offered to crew for us and Lea Browning put her hand up to kayak. Another friend Lynn Kubasek was on board as observer along with Theo Schmeekle. We signed up with Captain Bob from Tuna Thumper and we were set.
Conditions in the Santa Barbara Channel on our swim day were not the smooth waters we had hoped for. We encountered a strong southerly current as we swam away from Anacapa Island early on the morning of the 13th September and soon found ourselves in lumpy swells.
Chris’ dodgy shoulder was giving him trouble and his good shoulder was beginning to hurt with the overcompensation. In order to save his shoulders for his Charleston swim and let me continue with my Anacapa crossing Chris decided to call it a day after two and a half hours. From then I was free to continue swimming at my own pace. Even in the lumpy conditions I enjoyed my swim. I had a great support team and thoroughly enjoyed swimming along side Lea in her inflatable kayak then watching her scoot off to the main support boat every thirty minutes to return with my carbohydrate drink.
One of the more memorable moments for me was that throughout the swim there was a misty fog that came and went during parts of my crossing, on one of my feeds whilst treading water beside Lea we both looked behind us to see out of the fog loomed a huge container ship, it slipped into and out of view in seconds like a ghost ship. We both looked at each other, said whoa…then turned and continued on our journey. It was quit surreal. Another highlight was a seal that came to play in the early part of the swim, it was particularly interested in Chris and was swimming big loop the loops beneath him. After a while it took off and several minutes later returned this time with several other seals, they swam below me looking curious but were more interested in Chris, swimming behind him then zooming up in front then doing loop the loops again. This was great entertainment for me, I missed their company after Chris left the water, the seals took off too.
By the time I could see land at Silverstrand beach the fog had lifted and it was a beautiful sunny, yet breezy day. There was a surprising amount of pleasure craft on the water as I swam through what appeared to be a sailing regatta. As I finished and walked up the beach with a time of 6 hours 30 minutes, there was a small group of people looking at me, some clapping and cheering. One lady approached me and asked for a photo and told me she would be swimming Anacapa the following day, which she did, congratulations Helen Lin!
For more information on swimming the Santa Barbara Channel Isles follow this link to their website; Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association
The following report is from the most recent Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association’s news letter.
A Tough Year
This season has been particularly challenging. It seems that Mother Nature is throwing almost everything she can at us. In addition to our usual fierce winds, strong currents and high seas, we have had three Pacific hurricanes and unusual summer storms to contend with. As a result, we have had only 9 successful swims to date out of 16 attempts. The times are slower than normal as well. Of course, when the challenge is tougher, it makes it that much sweeter for those who ultimately achieve their goals. The SBCSA congratulates the following swimmers:
On September 3rd, Peter Hayden did something which has never been done before in Channel Island history and maybe ever. He started his day off by becoming the 1st person to circumnavigate Anacapa Island (approximately 11 miles) in 5:41:15. Immediately after finishing, he started a second marathon swim (with a completely different course) and became the 47th person to complete the Anacapa channel with a time of 12.4 miles in 6:59:06 minutes. His combined total of 23.4 miles swimming took only 12:40:21.
Last year, Julian Rusinek became the first person to swim from San Miguel to Santa Rosa Island. This year, he became the 48th person to swim from Anacapa Island to the mainland. Julian crossed the windy, white-capped channel on September 6th in 7:36:55.
Carol Hayden became the 49th swimmer and oldest female to ever complete a marathon swim off a California Channel Island on September 9th. Carol swam from Anacapa to Ventura in a blistering time of 9:51:08. Carol who is 64 years and 43 days broke the record set by Pat Gallant-Charette, who at age 60, swam from Catalina to Pt Vincente on Oct 18, 2011. The oldest male to have completed a marathon swim is Emilio Casanueva who was 68 years old when he swam from Anacapa on October 8, 2008.
On Saturday, September 13th, Penny Palfrey became the 50th person to have completed a swim from Anacapa Island to the mainland. Penny had high winds, rough seas and a close call with a container ship to finish on SIlverstrand in 6:30:25. This is the fastest swim of the season from Anacapa and Penny’s 4th successful solo swim off a California Channel Island. In fact, Penny is the only person to have successful swims from 4 of the 8 California Channel Islands. Dave Yudovin, Jim McConica and Tina Neill have each had successful solo swims off of 3 different Channel Islands. Penny also has an inter-island California Channel solo swim on her resume.