The Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association

The Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association


Recently I was honored to be asked to fill an opening on the Board of Directors for the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association (SBCSA). Of course, I said yes! As a marathon swimmer who grew up with a view of Santa Cruz Island looming on the horizon, I can’t think of an organization I’d be happier to serve.

The Santa Barbara Channel Islands

The Santa Barbara Channel Islands comprise 8 islands off the coast of Southern California. In distance from the mainland, they range from 12.4 miles (Anacapa) to over 60 miles (San Nicolas). Five of the islands (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Barbara) are part of Channel Islands National Park; two of the islands (San Nicolas and San Clemente) are controlled by the U.S. Navy; the eighth, Santa Catalina (popularly known as “Catalina”) is the only island with a substantial civilian population.

The SBCSA supports and sanctions open-water swims to, from, and between seven of the eight Channel Islands – all except Catalina, which has a separate governing body, the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation. There are a variety of interesting and challenging swims available to Santa Barbara Channel swimmers, ranging from Anacapa (25 successful solo swims) to San Nicolas, which has never even been attempted. A map of potential swim routes is available here.

The SBCSA website is worth bookmarking. For many of the successful swims there are written narratives or YouTube videos to accompany the entry. If you want to know what it’s like to do a marathon swim, you should be reading and/or watching as many of these as possible.

Are you subscribed to the SBCSA newsletter? If not, you can do so here.

View of Santa Cruz Island from the mountains above Goleta, after a wildfire (photo by M. Briggs)

19 Responses to “The Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association”

  1. Chicken O'C

    2011-10-12T15:47:26+00:00

    Super!!!! Now you’ll have to swim them all!

    Reply
    • Evan

      2011-10-12T15:49:48+00:00

      Wonder if they’d give me a bulk discount on the sanction fees if I booked all 7 at once? haha

      Reply
  2. Chicken O'C

    2011-10-12T21:06:57+00:00

    Absolutely. But only if you do them in the one week. Then you get the Employee of the Month parking spot.

    Reply
  3. IronMike

    2011-10-13T06:57:07+00:00

    Dude, that’s awesome. How much does the job pay? Joking.

    I’ve been looking at Anacapa for a while. When I get back to the states, I want to start planning a marathon swim somewhere. Anacapa would be fun. I thought either that or that distance challenge on the coast.

    Reply
    • Evan

      2011-10-13T14:49:38+00:00

      That’s an interesting choice, because the swims are almost the exact same distance, but aside from that very different. Anacapa is a channel swim; DSC is parallel to shore and broken up by several beach runs. DSC allows/encourages wetsuits; Anacapa does not. Anacapa would tend to be 2-3 degrees cooler than DSC. Anacapa is solo; DSC is a mass-participation race. Anacapa would be more expensive b/c of the boat hire. I’ll be the first to volunteer to be on your boat if you choose Anacapa, though!

      Reply
    • Rob D

      2011-10-14T12:08:44+00:00

      Having swam one and rode along on the other I’d say go Anacapa. There’s something much more special about a boat supported channel swim than a goofy race that makes you run up on the beach 8 times. Btw I’d also gladly come out for a boat ride with you :)

      Reply
  4. Chicken O'C

    2011-10-13T16:58:16+00:00

    I’m also interested in Anacapa. How cold is it usually?

    Reply
  5. Chicken O'C

    2011-10-13T18:06:54+00:00

    Do you guys allow tandem swims?

    Reply
    • Evan

      2011-10-13T18:11:53+00:00

      I don’t see why not. I’m pretty sure anything that’s legal for Catalina is legal for SBCSA. Come to think of it, Marcia Cleveland did a tandem swim from Anacapa this year.

      Reply
  6. Chicken O'C

    2011-10-13T18:34:56+00:00

    Oh good! But I don’t think tandems are allowed for Catalina anymore. Not sure where I heard that

    Reply
    • Evan

      2011-10-13T18:36:57+00:00

      You may be right about that! Seems like the new pace swimming rules would preclude tandem swimming. As far as I know, SBCSA has not adopted a similar rule change. But I will ask about it at the board meeting on 11/5.

      Reply
  7. Chicken O'C

    2011-10-13T19:06:02+00:00

    Ssshhhh maybe keep quiet so they don’t change it :)

    Reply
  8. IronMike

    2011-10-13T20:09:13+00:00

    Evan, looking at the possible swims in the SBCSA, I see all the island-to-mainland swims described, but not the island-to-island, despite two possibles showing up on the map (Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz to Anacapa). How about San Miguel to Santa Rosa? How about swimming all three i-2-i swims in the 4 northern islands? Go from San Miguel to Santa Rosa, then get in the boat and go around to the eastern side of Santa Rosa and swim to Santa Cruz, back on the boat to the next one…

    Reply
    • Evan

      2011-10-13T20:22:48+00:00

      As far as I know, San Miguel to Santa Rosa has never been done – I’m guessing people find it hard to justify hiring a boat (+ observer, etc.) to motor all the way out there for a 3.5-miler. However, your triple inter-island idea sounds awesome. 14 miles total… you could do it in a day!

      Reply
    • Evan

      2011-10-13T20:36:17+00:00

      Mike, I should also mention: Inter-island swims involving Catalina are also under the auspices of SBCSA, not CCSF – CCSF governs only Catalina to/from the mainland. I don’t think anyone’s done an inter-island swim among the southern islands (though Penny Palfrey swam from Santa Barbara Isl. past Catalina on her way to the mainland). With your military connections you might even be able to get approval for a swim to/from one of the Navy islands (San Nicolas & San Clemente).

      Reply
      • IronMike

        2011-10-16T01:07:42+00:00

        If I get to the states next and have a stable job, I’ll start talking to you guys (you, Rob, Katie) about doing the inter-island swim. I think that would be fun.
        Thanks to all for volunteering!

        Reply

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