MSF Documented Swim

Kimberly Rutherford
Monterey Bay
25 miles
22 hours, 6 minutes
September 5-6, 2014
Documenter: Terri Schneider

Swimmer

  • Name: Kimberly Rutherford
  • Nationality: United States
  • Hometown: Capitola, California
  • Age on date of swim: 55

Swim

  • Body of Water: Monterey Bay, California
  • Route: Monterey to Santa Cruz
  • Start Time/Date: September 5, 2014, 11:40pm local (Pacific Daylight)
  • Finish Time/Date: September 6, 2914, 9:46pm local
  • Swim Duration: 22 hours, 6 minutes
  • Historical Claims:
    • Third unassisted solo crossing of Monterey Bay (after Cindy Cleveland and Patti Bauernfeind).
    • First in the south-to-north direction.

Route Definition

Note: At the time of this swim, there was no “official” swim route for MB, but based on the two previous marathon swims (and what makes good sense geographically) is to start/finish anywhere between the Northern-most outer-point of the bay (Steamer Lane) East to the most Northern location within the Bay (New Brighton State Beach) and finish/start anywhere between the Southern-most outer-point of the bay (Point Pinos) East to the most Southern location within the Bay (Monterey Municipal Beach & Wharf). These ranges result in a true Bay crossing ranging between 22.2 and 26.1 miles (as the fish swims). Note, the shortest route may not be a safe choice due to the dangerous shoreline and thick kelp between Point Pinos and Lovers Point (Monterey side) and the kelp, steep cliffs and potential high surf near Point Soquel (Santa Cruz side).

Support Personnel

  • Pilots & Vessls:

  • Crew: Scott Tapley, Patti Bauernfeind, Heidi Sussman, Janelle Frias

  • Paddlers: David King, Maya Sprinsock, Elaina Luke
  • ObserverTerri Schneider

Rules and Conduct

  • Swim Category: Unassisted marathon swim
  • Swim RulesMSF Standard

Swim Costume & Equipment

  • Standard porous female swimsuit
  • 1 latex swim cap
  • Zoggs Predator goggles (Clear)
  • NO EARPLUGS
  • Vaseline (minimal - for chaffing)
  • Safe Sea sun block and jelly fish lotion - 30 SPF.
  • Water-proof Guardian Light (Blue) clipped to goggles and water-proof Lazerstick (electric glow stick) pinned to bathing suit at the middle of her back.

Feedings

  • Hammer Perpetuem, Carbo Pro, electrolyte tablets, chocolate pudding, vanilla cookies, warm water, coca cola.
  • Planned feeds every 30 minutes (approx.) - Feeds changed to every 20 minutes @ 10:40 AM to finish.
  • Feed durations began @ about 1 minute per feeding, but eventually settled in around 20 to 30 seconds.

GPS Track

Download original SPOT tracker data (CSV format)

Weather Observations

  • Wind: Beaufort Force 0-1 (early) to Force 4-5 (afternoon)
  • Water Temperature: 64f at start, 59f mid swim, 64f at finish.
  • Air Temperature: 58f at start to 62f at finish.
  • Swells: Mixed 5-7ft NW & 3-5ft SSW
  • Skies: Clear skies (start) turning to clouds and high fog

The swim began under clear sky and calm water. Wind was 0-2 knots. Water temp at start was 64f. Kim had to swim wide of the straight-line course to avoid large kelp beds at the start. For the first several hours, the stars were visible. Whales could be heard nearby. High Fog/Low clouds formed (rolled in) at about 3:00 a.m.

Throughout the night, the water was thick with salp. Shortly after midnight, Kim started to get stung by a variety of jellyfish, being stung on her face, arms, and legs. Stings continued throughout the night (and day). She received more stings than could be accurately recorded, but we estimate in the hundreds of small stings to several larger stings.

Twilight came at 5:45 AM and sunrise at 6:43 AM Sky was covered in high clouds. Water was still very calm. No land in sight in any direction.

There was a mixed swell: 5-7 ft out of the NW. 3-5+ft out of the SSW. The South swell was mostly blocked by Point Pinos, offering no help to the swimmer. NW swell seemed to have little effect on swimmer speed or comfort.

As Kim passed over the Soquel Canyon (over 4000ft deep below the swim course), water temp dropped to 59f. As we passed over the canyon, the water temp warmed slightly and continued in the range of 62-64f. Throughout the day, Kim continued to receive occasional Jelly Fish stings, but less than during the night.

We continued to see humpback whales and common dolphins in the distance. A few sea lions visited and played nearby. No aggressive behavior. Occasionally we would get a glimpse of land (the Santa Cruz Mountains) through the fog, but most of the swim was monochrome gray.

kim swimming

As the afternoon approached (approx 11:45 AM), and approximately 8 miles from Santa Cruz (finish), the wind gradually increased from 0-2 knots eventually reaching 10-15 knots with gusts of 20 knots. Wind was consistently out of the WNW, attempting to push Kim off course to the SE. Kim had to swim against a side/head wind and waves to stay on course.

Sunset was at 7:31 PM and dusk at 8:28 PM. The Sun was bright below the clouds, making for a dramatic transition from day to night and the final push for land. Wind continued to push Kim slightly off course toward Pleasure Point.

Once Kim was about .5 statute miles from shore, she was in the shadow of the wind (protected from Lighthouse Point). She changed course slightly back to the West toward the Santa Cruz Harbor (and the finish). Arriving at the finish, the mixed swell was producing breaking shore waves in the 5-8 foot range (trough to crest).

At approx. 1000 yards from the finish, Scott Tapley jumped in to swim with Kim to the beach. A land-based support crew prevented people from making any contact until Kim was clear of the water and made it on her own to dry sand at 9:46 PM.

Tides

tide charts

Observer Report

Swim Log

typed log 1 typed log 2

From original handwritten log by observer Terri Schneider.

PDF Downloads

Narrative

Kim walked into the water from San Carlos beach unassisted and began strong and steady with her normal stroke count of 60. Before daybreak, Kim complained of feeling cold (which is abnormal for Kim). The crew believed this was caused by the continuous jelly fish stings and accumulated toxins. Her stroke count stayed between 57 and 60 throughout the night and the following morning. Early afternoon (shortly after the wind started picking up), Kim began to have noticeable pain and weakness in her left shoulder. Her stroke count dropped to 56 and then eventually to 50. Ibupropin and Tylenol helped to relieve the shoulder issue, and she was able to maintain a stroke count of 53 to 56. As the wind picked up, her spirits were challenged, but she continued on in spite of deteriorating conditions. She was eating smaller and smaller portions at each feed. We introduced a combination of Coca Cola, Carbo Pro, and hot water into her feeding cycle. This seemed to perk her up a bit.

As the sun began to set, there were strong continuous winds with even strong gusts, but she seemed to get a second (or third) wind as the sky became dark again. She held her stroke rate between 54 and 56 and continued into the wind toward land. Knowing that Kim had been swimming over 20 hours (longer than any of her previous swims), we were concerned about her ability to land at night in the high surf and get to dry sand safely. She surprised everyone by standing up and walking several hundred feet beyond the high water mark to dry sand.

Misc. Thoughts and Observations by Scott Tapley

The distance of the swim course across Monterey Bay can range between 22 and 26 miles depending on where you choose to start and end. Courses with the safest and most accessible beaches put the course between 24 and 26 miles. The course Kim chose was a 25 mile line between San Carlos Beach near the Monterey Harbor and the beach on the East side of the Santa Cruz Harbor. However, in most cases the swimmer will travel much farther over the course due to wind, currents, and deviations in navigation.

sunsetThe decision to reverse the course and swim from Monterey to Santa Cruz was made based on the wind and currents over the previous 72 hours. The risk was the extra 4 hours it took to sail to Monterey and starting 2 hours later than planned. Unfortunately those 2 hours came with the price of swimming the last several miles into strong afternoon winds.

The last few hours were surreal watching the intensity of Kim’s determination clawing through breaking open sea waves framed by the peacefulness of the setting sun.

I had the pleasure of swimming with Kim those last few hundred yards through pounding surf in total darkness. The crowd was silhouetted against the lights on the beach and we had to time the sets to get in. I wasn’t sure if she’d be able to walk or crawl to get to dry sand. She surprised us all by body-surfing that final wave, standing, and marching her way to the finish, which was followed immediately by a huge smile that said it all.

kim finishes

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