The best marathon swims of 2012

The best marathon swims of 2012

What’s the right way to decide something like this?

By fiat, like the Freshies? By committee, like induction to the IMSHOF? A vote by a group of journalists, like the Baseball Hall of Fame? Or, like the WOWSA awards, an online poll open to anyone regardless of experience or expertise?

First, some background…

‘Round this time last year, a few of us were discussing some of the great achievements in marathon swimming during the previous year (i.e., 2011). A few of them, truly world-class feats of endurance, on par with anything any famous athlete did in more visible, monetized sports. Penny Palfrey‘s 67-mile swim in the Cayman Islands came to mind. As did Forrest Nelson’s circumnavigation of Catalina.

Yet, as it stood then (in early 2012), no organization existed that was saying to the world, and recording for posterity: These are the most outstanding achievements in marathon swimming this year. The question was: How to do it? Who decides? What’s the process?

Long story short: This conversation gave rise to the announcement of the Marathon Swimmers Forum in March.…

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Some miscellaneous items

Some miscellaneous items

It’s a typically slow time of year for my swimming related endeavors. And so it’s been here at the blog, too! A few brief updates:

  • Exciting times at the Island of the Blue Dolphins.

San Nicolas Island is the real-life location of the beloved children’s novel The Island of the Blue DolphinsIt is also the only one of the eight Channel Islands that has never (to our knowledge) been swum to, from, or around. Possibly because the distance between the island and the closest point on the California mainland is more than 61 miles.

Anyway, the island is now owned and operated by the US Navy. Recently, an archaeologist in the employ of said Navy made an exciting discovery: the long-lost cave in which the “lone woman” immortalized in Blue Dolphins apparently made her home in the mid-19th century!

And here’s a follow-up article in the Santa Barbara Independent with some gorgeous photography.

The same Independent writer also recently did a cool story on his hiking explorations of southeast Santa Cruz Island – near where my big swim in September began.…

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SBCSA website gets a refresh

SBCSA website gets a refresh

Have you checked out the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association web presence lately? I finally managed to wrangle the FTP credentials for the site, which had become outdated as our Association has grown. I recently put a solid weekend into “refreshing” the site — and, though the project is not finished, I’m pleased with the progress.

I’ll draw your attention to a few exciting new features:

  • New live sea temperature data widget on the homepage.
  • New “Latest News” section on the homepage.
  • Greatly simplified navigation menu (all pages).
  • Totally re-worked Swim Successes and Records page, which draws content from a Google spreadsheet for easier maintenance.
  • Totally re-worked Conditions page, including a visualization of water temperature trends in the Anacapa Channel.
  • New Live Conditions page, showing live water temp, wind, and surface currents in the Channel.
  • New Live Tracking page, which – if a SBCSA swimmer is currently in the water – will show their SPOT GPS tracks.
  • Totally re-worked News Archives page, which organizes old newsletters, news clippings, and personal swim stories into conveniently expanding/collapsing javascript divs.


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A movie that deserves to be made

A movie that deserves to be made

At the SBCSA annual banquet this past weekend, Ben Pitterle and Brian Hall showed a brand-new trailer for their independent documentary film about marathon swimming, DRIVEN. The film features three swims across the Santa Barbara Channel this past summer – including my Santa Cruz Island swim.

See for yourself:

Driven Trailer from Element 8 Productions on Vimeo.

They just started an online fundraising campaign, which will continue for the next 30 days.

THE FUNDRAISING PAGE IS HEREThere are various “perks” available in return for your contributions – including a listing in the closing credits for only $100.

On a personal note…

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog over the past nearly three years – perhaps occasionally to the detriment of my career and personal life. I’ve never made any money from it (just a few affiliate commissions). Indeed, I continuously lose money to web hosting fees.

It’s a labor of love – love for swimming, and love for writing.

Similarly, this film is a labor of love for Ben and Brian.…

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Announcement: The Global Marathon Swimming Awards

Announcement: The Global Marathon Swimming Awards

Along with my friend, fellow swim-blogger, and Marathon Swimmers Forum co-founder Donal Buckley (of loneswimmer.com fame), I am excited to announce the first annual Global Marathon Swimming Awards.

As the name suggests, these awards aim to promote and celebrate the sport of marathon swimming – a unique and historic niche within the increasingly vibrant community of Open Water Swimming. Marathon swimmers – just as our founding father Capt. Webb did nearly 140 years ago – swim long distances in open water without artificial aids.

2012 has been an exciting year for our sport. In addition to the second appearance of marathon swimming at the Olympic Games, numerous solo swimmers have done incredible things in ocean channels, lakes, bays, and rivers across the world.

Few, if any groups – online or in the flesh – are in a more knowledgeable and legitimate position to identify and celebrate these achievements than the MARATHONSWIMMERS.ORG community. At nearly 450 members, the Forum counts a sizeable chunk of the world’s currently active marathon swimmers among its members – and many others who will join their ranks in the coming years.…

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Santa Cruz Island swim (the making of…)

Santa Cruz Island swim (the making of…)

I haven’t mentioned it on this site yet (or at least, the nature of my connection with it), but my recent Santa Cruz Island swim will be a subject of an upcoming independent documentary film, DRIVEN.

You will hear more about the film in the coming months. For now, I want to alert readers to the official website – www.marathonswimmovie.com – which includes a page for recent production updates. The most recent update is worth reproducing here:

Last Friday was touch and go as we prepared to film Evan’s Santa Cruz Island crossing. Last minute film crew boat troubles left us scrambling to find another boat to get us out to the islands to film Evan’s swim. Thanks to Dave S. for coming through for us at the last minute!

We left SB Harbor at 7 PM Friday night and began our 4.5 hour crossing to San Pedro Point by sail boat. 15 – 20 knot winds in 3 – 4 foot seas left some of our crew feeling less than chipper as we made our way across the channel.



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Gone fishin’

Gone fishin’

In the past 15 days I have:

  • Swum across the Maui Channel as part of a relay.
  • Swum across the Maui Channel solo.
  • Observed two SBCSA solo swims from Anacapa Island to Oxnard, one of which was a new record, and the first under 5 hours.
  • Observed two Catalina Channel solo swims.
  • Swum across the Santa Barbara Channel, solo, from Santa Cruz Island to Oxnard.

At some point, I’ll find the time to write it all up. I appreciate your patience.…

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The landlord’s in town, and the rent is due

The landlord’s in town, and the rent is due

A sobering summary of recent shark activity in Santa Barbara County by Peter Howarth, director of the SB Marine Mammal Center (courtesy of Shark Research Committee):


  • 14 April 2012 Shark attacked adult female sea lion off Stearn’s Wharf, Santa Barbara Harbor.  Sea lion rescued by harbor patrol, then it was brought to the dock to Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center (SBMMC) volunteers, where it died from shock and blood loss;
  • 20 July 2012 Male southern sea otter attacked at Guadalupe Dunes. Rescued by ranger and brought halfway to Santa Barbara, where it was picked up by SBMMC volunteers. Transferred to Mike Harris of CA Dept. Fish & Game for necropsy;
  • 15-20 July 2012 Adult female California sea lion attacked, received two bites on pelvic area;
  • 25 July 2012 Sea lion above reported on mooring buoy off East Beach, Santa Barbara. Sea lion left when harbor patrol approached too closely;
  • 25 July 2012 Sea lion attacked by shark off Leadbetter Point, Santa Barbara (Properly called Santa Barbara Point). Reported by Dan Collie, charter boat captain;
  • 27 July 2012 Sea lion attacked during period 20-25 July rescued but had to be euthanized;
  • *10-11 August 2012 Male Pacific harbor seal, 5-6 months old, attacked off Carpinteria sea rookery;
  • 12 August 2012 Above harbor seal reported on beach at rookery but washed away before rescued;
  • 13 August 2012 Harbor seal rescued.


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A movie about marathon swimming: Fundraiser in Laguna Beach

A movie about marathon swimming: Fundraiser in Laguna Beach

This Thursday from 5:30-7:30pm Pacific time, Laguna Canyon Winery will host a wine tasting / fundraiser for an independent documentary film about marathon swimming. The Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, on whose board of directors I serve, has been involved in the production of this film in several interesting ways. At the wine tasting, the filmmakers will give a brief presentation, answer questions, and show some preview clips.

If you think marathon swimming is cool, and you live in Southern California, please consider attending. It’s a great opportunity to support both the sport and independent filmmaking – not to mention, taste some great wines and hang out with other swimmers. Entry is $35 and can be purchased at the door.

Laguna Canyon Winery is located at 2133 Laguna Canyon Rd in Laguna Beach. 5:30pm this Thursday – be there!

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