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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Swimming Across The Channel On Warm Orange Juice

In the days of LORAN and when marathon swimmers around the world numbered in the dozens not in the thousands, a young group of beach city kids had dreams of swimming the Catalina Channel.

"We trained all over the place in and around Long Beach including getting dropped off in mid-channel and around Esther Island," recalled Sargeant Dennis Sullivan now of the Long Beach Police Marine Patrol.

"Andy [Taylor] was only 12, but the rest of us were 14. We were prepared and not nervous. I just remembering swimming backwards for 3 hours near the end by Point Vicente. We started at White's Point around 9 pm and finished together after 9 am at Point Vicente. I also remember drinking warm orange juice on the way of all things."

Years later in 1976, Sullivan was also part of history when he paddled for Penny Dean on her 7:15 crossing - which remains the record in the Catalina Channel. "Yeah, I have swum the channel, paddled across a few times, and helped swimmers across like Andy who swam it again the next year and Penny too."

Back in August 1971, Lynne Cox, Andy Taylor, Dennis Sullivan and Stacy Fresonke completed their Catalina Channel crossing in 12 hours 34 minutes...drinking warm orange juice.

Fresonke was a 14-year-old from McGaugh Elementary School at the time and remembers the feedings well. "My father was a dentist and he fashioned the first sports bottle that he threw to us in the water. We all swam together, although we do not remember where we would eventually land."

Sargeant Sullivan still has his hands in and around marine events in the Long Beach area, enjoying the ocean and smiling like he did back in 1971 as a 14-year-old channel swimmer.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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