Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cathy Delneo On Shark Encounters On Open Water Wednesday

Cathy Delneo, a librarian and open water swimmer from San Francisco, is one mighty brave woman. Back in 2004, she was bitten by a shark while surfing, but she continues to enjoy open water swimming, including being a member of the latest Farallon Islands relay swim. Cathy and her five teammates swam 16 hours and 29 minutes in the Red Triangle.

Cathy has a strong position on what open water swimmers and their support crews should do in the case of a shark encounter during an ocean swim.

Her instructions to her support crew and teammates were truly something to learn when she dove into the treacherous Red Triangle - where Great White Sharks abound. Her philosophy and unique history as a shark survivor are important to consider when the global open water swimming community considers various new Wildlife Protection Policies.

Listen to Cathy's thoughtful position and unique history as a shark survivor and marathon swimmer on next week's Open Water Wednesday.

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association


  1. If after listening to Cathy's interview and just in case you want to also consider the opinion of someone who does not believe that Penny Palfrey is a shark murderer, and as someone who thinks the Shark Shield is a technology that is good for sharks and good for humans, please read my note answering the questions posed by the Daily News of Open Water Swimming here:’s_Swim%2C_Shark_Slaying_Allegations%2C_and_Shark_Shields.html

    Here is a link to a new great article:

  2. Karah Nazor FribergJune 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    I am sure she will talk about this, but I think if Cathy is being considered as an expert on this subject because she was bitten by a shark, I think it should be made known to the audience beforehand that Cathy Delneo is OK with getting eaten by a shark, rather than act in self-defense. Sadly, she seems to value the life of the shark more than her own. This is hard for me to accept since she is one of my best friends.

  3. I don't know Cathy too well but judging from her recent rants about Penny, Shark Shields, and swim etiquette it will be interesting to see what Ms. Delneo has to say about these topics. Hopefully there will be LOGIC and SCIENCE rather than smoke and mirrors backing her views and opinions. If not, it is scary to think she was a previous swim leader at the South End Rowing Club paving the way for swimmer's safety. My guess is there will be zero quantitative information included with this interview. Daily News, let's find some authorities on these topics.

  4. You are an admirable soul Cathy for your efforts in the effort to help protect the dwindling number or remaining sharks. Your interview was insightful. After listening a few questions. Since we are not aquatic creature as is a shark, is it fair for you to consider their home, or a shark sanctuary in the case of the Farallons, your own? You refer to it as such in the interview, although a romantic attitude, it seems you are an outsider. Anything we as land dwellers take (boat, nets, cables, propeller etc) into this home is external to their environment. It seems an important question to consider since a swimmer would deem quite external. Humans swimming amongst sharks, carrying the sharks interest close to their hearts such as yourself may want to consider the possible dilemma you could create with a shark trying to determine whether you are or are not prey. In the case of an attack it only adds to increased negative public opinion of sharks but also you are confusing them of prey in their normal habitat. The trade off for those variables as opposed to the detriments of the 3 meter discomfort zone created by a Shark Shield is where our opinions differ :)

    Having lost numerous dear friends (probably somewhere around 10?) over the last 20 years due to the inherent risk while playing in Class V whitewater I personally understand what it means to accept the fact that something could happen and I may not make it home..but I believe safety should not be compromised. Further, people who in charge of organizing events must carry safety procedures to a higher standard since participants will use your guidance and expertise as a means for their own decisions (like ModernOWS said). From the interview it seems your safety plan of action goes as follows:

    Plan A (Before Attack)
    1. Hand Signal from the swimmer to get them out of the water
    2. Someone from the boat recognizing an aggressive shark and deciding the swimmer should be pulled.
    Plan B (After Attack)
    1. Boat moving in toward swimmer to help rescue the swimmer with long pole.
    2. Hope that other colleagues will jump in the water with the injured swimmer to distract shark.
    In the case the shark isn't letting go the attacked victim hits shark in gills and snout.

    As a member of the "crew" for open-water swimmers I think there should be more depth to this. I guess you might agree too since you mentioned in the interview you hope a dialogue is created and ideas shared.

    You called the Shark Shield a "swim aid" in your interview. I don't know a lot about these devices but is it truly a "swim aid" or a "safety device"?

    Having swam in the water there before I know it can be quite cold. Did you have to wear a wet suit or any type of thermal cap to help the core temp?!! Burr!

  5. Could I make a comment about these videos you have on here? This is meant to be supportive, constructive feedback. The music is really wierd. Here, in Cathy's interview, music starts playing and my first thought is that "Oh no, one of my other Internet Explorer windows has started playing some annoying music." Then I hit the Pause button on the interview and realize that its coming from HERE! This has happened with several videos. If we're here, we're already interested enough in open-water swimming that our attention can be maintained long enough to hear the interview. We don't need wierd musical effects. Please don't be hurt, just take this as a useful opionion. Thanks.


Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association