This past weekend I attended the annual banquets of the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation (CCSF) and Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association (SBCSA). For the past few years the two events have been scheduled for the same day, in the same city (San Pedro), with CCSF providing brunch at the Doubletree and the SBCSA providing dinner at a restaurant downtown. This arrangement seems to maximize cross-pollination between the two events – reminding everyone of the patch of ocean we share, and giving us just a little more time together.
This is my third year attending “Banquet Day” in San Pedro.
In 2011, I was a swimmer-honoree at the CCSF event, having just crossed the Catalina Channel (8:55 on August 25, and I didn’t even have to look it up).…
Last month, the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association (SBCSA) became the first major channel swimming sanctioning body to prohibit swimmers from intentionally drafting off the escort boat. The SBCSA prides itself on its position at the vanguard of protecting the integrity of marathon swimming.
Today we are excited to announce another major step forward in ridding our sport of cheaters.
Starting with our 2013 swim season, the SBCSA will be collaborating with the World Anti-Doping Agency and its counterparts, the USADA and ENGSO, to carry out random testing for prohibited substances. We expect that our fellow channel swimming governing bodies, the CCSF, CS&PF, and CSA, will soon be following suit.
What does this mean? Very simply: When you arrive on the beach at the end of your swim, exhausted, chafed, and possibly jellyfish-stung — you’d better be ready to pee in a cup.…
If these discussion threads at the Marathon Swimmers Forum are any indication, marathon swimmers love to argue about rules. This is not surprising; rules define the boundary conditions of our sport, what is and is not a “marathon swim.” The beauty of marathon swimming derives, at least in part, from its purity and asceticism — its prohibitions against things that would make it easier.
Take the survey HERE
Debates and hand-wringing occasionally arise due to a few “local variations” on marathon swimming rules:
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 Dolphins. It 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!…
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.
Ashby Harper was the second person to cross the Santa Barbara Channel between Santa Cruz Island and the mainland – and the first to do so by the longer (23.5 mile) route, finishing in Santa Barbara. He did this in 1984, when he was 67 years old.
Princeton senior class picture. Found in the New York Times (6/19/1939) by Morty Berger.
Ashby Harper penned a “jaw-inspiring” article about the swim for Sports Illustrated.
Ashby Harper graduated from Princeton University in 1939, 63 years before I did. He was considered the best all-around athlete of the Class of ’39, earning nine varsity letters — in football, baseball, and (wait for it…) swimming. He trained in a pool that has been lost to history. Dillon Gym pool – considered the “old pool” when I was at Princeton, was not built until 1947.…
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 HERE. There 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.…
In case you missed it…
Sometime between 2 and 3 in the morning, I had decided to spare everyone another (potentially) 10 hours of needless unpleasantness, and end my swim. I was just waiting for the right time; a convenient excuse. If Mark or Cathy or Rob or Dave had said at some point that night, “Evan, it’s pretty rough out here. Maybe you want to get on the boat and go home?”, I can’t say I’d have insisted on continuing.
It’s a testament to the loyalty and intestinal fortitude of my crew and observer that I never got that chance. Three hours later, I was still swimming.
At 5:30am, we were halfway across the channel – 8.3 nautical (9.6 statute) miles to go.…
In case you missed it:
The shortest-line distance from Santa Cruz Island to the mainland is 16.4 nautical miles (18.9 statute) – starting at San Pedro Point, finishing at the southern end of Hollywood Beach, north of the entrance to Channel Islands Harbor. Capt. Forrest actually plugged in a slightly more distant waypoint – the resort at Mandalay Beach – which made it a 16.6-nautical mile swim. I don’t know why, but that’s what he did.
To break Ned’s record, I had to average 1.59 knots (2:02 per 100m, 2945m per hour) across the channel. To break 10 hours, I had to average 1.66 knots (1:57 per 100m, 3074m per hour). My neutral-condition (i.e., pool) pace for a swim of this distance, at my current fitness level, would be approximately 2.3 knots initially, fading gradually to ~2.05 knots.…
In case you missed it…
From the beginning, something just felt… off.
The chop disagreed with my stroke – pounding me randomly, from odd angles, making it impossible to develop any sort of rhythm.
The moonless night completely disoriented me. Shortly after the start we had a snafu with the glowsticks on Mark’s kayak, so it was insufficiently lit. He tried using a camping headlamp, but it was so blindingly bright that it seemed worse than the darkness.
It was a constant battle through the night – especially the first few feeds – to maintain a consistent distance from the boat and kayak. They were getting blown around by the wind; I was getting knocked around by the chop; and I had no depth perception to adjust to it.…
In case you missed it…
Ventura Harbor. 9pm, September 14th.
ME: “How does the weather look?”
CAPT. FORREST: “Dogshit.”
He wondered whether perhaps I wanted to postpone the swim to another day. “What are your ‘drop dead’ conditions?” he asked. “It’s blowing 10 knots right here [i.e., in the harbor]. It’ll be worse out there.”
Here lay the dilemma: My crew and observer were here now. Dave and Rob drove down from SLO; Mark from SB (where he has two kids under the age of 3); Cathy from SF. We could, theoretically, delay for 24 hours – Cathy didn’t go home ’til Monday. But it would suck. I had already dragged these people out here in the middle of the night. Now I was going to send them all home (or to a hotel) and say we’ll try again tomorrow?…
Was it inevitable?
There the island sits, tauntingly, every time I wade into the ocean. It dominates the southern horizon - as prominent a feature of the Santa Barbara landscape as chaparral-covered mountains, tile roofs, and beach volleyball. On clear winter days it’s a textured, multi-hued shadow. On hazy summer days it’s just a faint, misty outline. In the depth of June Gloom it disappears from view entirely – but I know it’s there, somewhere.
The shadow is Santa Cruz Island – largest of the eight Channel Islands, 19 statute miles offshore from Oxnard, the closest part of mainland California.
Looking out at Santa Cruz Island from the mountains above Goleta. New Year’s Day 2012. Photo by Vanessa.
A few months ago two local filmmakers asked: Would I be interested in being filmed for a documentary about marathon swimming in the Channel Islands?…
In the past couple weeks I’ve had the honor and pleasure of observing four swims between the Channel Islands and the California mainland: two 12.4-mile crossings from Anacapa Island to Oxnard (sanctioned by the SBCSA), and two 20.1-mile crossings from Catalina Island to Palos Verdes (sanctioned by the CCSF).
Two Channels: Anacapa Island to Oxnard; Catalina Island to Palos Verdes.
Each swim was a remarkable achievement in its own way. From Anacapa, there was a 4:58 crossing (a new record and the first ever under 5 hours) and an 8:58 crossing under conditions which thwarted two 6-person relays on the same day. From Catalina, there was a 13.5-hour crossing and a sub-9 hour crossing (the first ever by a 50+ year old).
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.…
The biggest season in the history of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association officially began yesterday, with a previously “undisclosed” relay crossing from San Clemente Island to the mainland – a distance of 54 miles.
Compared to the most famous Channel Island – Catalina – the remaining seven Channel Islands are still relatively virgin waters for marathon swimmers. Here are the number of successful solo swims, by island:
- Anacapa to mainland (12.6 miles) – 25 swims by 23 individuals
- Santa Cruz to mainland (various distances) – 8 swims
- Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz (6 miles) – 2 swims
- Santa Barbara to mainland (37.7 miles) – 1 swim
- Santa Rosa to mainland (27.5 miles) – 1 swim
- San Miguel to mainland (25.9 miles) – 1 swim
- Anacapa to Santa Cruz (5.6 miles) – 1 swim
There are 80 possible swims between and around the eight Channel Islands (including Catalina) and the U.S.…
For the most up-to-date information about Anacapa Island swims, please see the new dedicated Anacapa Island page at the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association website.
A channel crossing is a special kind of marathon swim. From one piece of land, you swim to another, non-contiguous piece of land, with nothing but water separating the two. Unlike a lake or bay crossing, there are no shortcuts – you can’t fudge the distance by adjusting where you start and finish. Unlike a river swim, there’s no consistent current to speed you along. Indeed, the only way out is getting on the boat.
For Americans, the most commonly attempted channel swim is the Catalina (a.k.a. San Pedro) Channel. The second most-attempted channel by Americans is, I would imagine, the English Channel.…
An exciting announcement today from the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association: the Southern California Eight.
Eight islands off the coast of Southern Califorina; eight world-class marathon swims. From gateway swims (12.4 miles from Anacapa) to greatest-ever swims (61.2 miles from San Nicolas). From well-trodden paths (275 swims to/from Catalina) to virgin waters (San Clemente and San Nicolas). A swim for every budget, ability, and ambition.
The Channel Islands of Southern California
The Ocean’s Seven will soon have its first conqueror, most likely later this year. What will be the next epic challenge? For U.S.-based marathon swimmers – especially those on the West Coast – the SoCal Eight would have to be enticing. Residents of Southern California could potentially do all eight without ever setting foot on an airplane or in a hotel.…
And now, a few words about the CCSF and SBCSA annual banquets (before the memories are too far from mind). Rob already wrote a fairly authoritative recap - to which I don’t have much to add.
(L-R) Anne Cleveland, Marcia Cleveland, and Cindy Cleveland. Photo credit: Paula Selby
Despite the recent surge of interest and participation in open-water swimming, marathon swimmers are still a rare breed – and our efforts are distributed across the globe. It would be unusual for more than a few of them to be in a room at the same time. How often, for example, would you be able to get a picture of the three great Clevelands together? (No relation – see picture at left.)
November 5th at the San Pedro Doubletree (a place I’ve come to know rather well this year!), the CCSF filled a large conference room with marathon swimmers (past and present) and their families.…
The blog has been rather text-heavy lately. This post should fix that.
The Santa Barbara Ocean Ducks gather Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at Goleta Beach County Park, and Sundays at Butterfly Beach in Montecito (plus Saturdays in the summer). It’s a diverse, friendly group of folks, and even this late in the year you can expect to see 8-10 of us in the water during the week; more on the weekends.
Typically we head out in groups of 2 or 3 according to speed. There are a variety of possible swim routes. Here’s one of my favorites (click to enlarge):
Goleta Beach to Campus Point
From our meeting place next to the shower head (west of the restaurant and pier, east of the restroom), we make our way beyond the surf line, 100-150m offshore.…
- For the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association’s Facebook page. It’s been around a while, but I have reason to believe it’ll be more active going forward. Why? Because now I’m the man behind the curtain.
Apologies for the recent radio silence. I’ve been working on the final installment of my Catalina Channel story.…