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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Anacapa Relays Swim With Fin In The Water

Back in 1978, Cindy Cleveland became the first person to cross the Anacapa Channel, 12.4 miles (10.8 nm) from Anacapa Island to Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard on the California mainland. 36 successful swimmers later, not one relay had given this cold-water, rough, marine-strewn channel a shot.

All solos, no group swims.

Until October 14th that is.

When the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association utilized one of the largest escort boats on record - the New Bluefin - three teams of 6 swimmers each were ready to give it a shot. The New Bluefin is a 46-foot sportfishing boat with 15 bunks and plenty of space for the 18 swimmers, their gear and their crew.

Captain Chris Volaski and crew were ready to take one of the largest flotillas of humans across a channel in the Pacific Ocean in history.*

The 18 swimmers - 3 each in the water at one time - would all be escorted and guided by the New Bluefin, so swimmer exchanges and positioning were elaborate transitions in the cool, lumpy water. But the teams were all successful and the teamwork was a study in synchronicity for 7 hours 15 minutes.

The group of 18 were separated into Team Jessie (Howard Burns, Charlie Christensen, Marc Horwitz, Mike Kendall, Alan Baumgardner and Corey Tabor), Team Augie (Lisa Nordholm, John Stevens, Jullian Rusinek, Morgan Empey, Vanessa Mesia and Mike Lane), and Team Coto (Michael Trudeau, Tanya MacLean, Jeff Conrad, Ben Putman, Lynn Kubasek and Cherie Edborg). With the transitions timed perfectly and each swimmer fulfilling their own responsibilities, relay history was made with Captain Chris Volaski and the crew of the New Bluefin in the water leading the way.

This was the team’s second attempt after aborting the first relay on September 8th due to 20-knot winds. Team captain Morgan Empey said, "We selected the wrong day on our first attempt. This time, we chose a date with a forecast for light winds and made the decision to conduct the swim during the evening hours when the wind typically lies down. We also added some road tested ocean swimmers to our roster. This proved to be the correct call."

The teams also raised US$17,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. "Of course our goal was to complete the swim, but the event was a success even before entering the water due to the generous contributions received for Muscular Dystrophy Association research."

Scott Zornig, President of the Santa Barbara Channel Swim association, summarized, "This group of outstanding open water athletes will always hold the distinction of being the first to jointly conquer Anacapa Island."

* These teams equaled the number of swimmers that swam on Team Tripod across the Catalina Channel earlier this year when 18 swimmers participated (including Julian Rusinek, Lynn Kubasek, Carol Hayden, Karl Jacobs, Kenny Jacobs, Tanya MacLean, Patsee Ober, Marc Horwitz, Tom Cook, Dan Simonelli, Kelley Schall, Thomas Johnson, Steve Coopersmith, Natalie Kreitzinger, Marta Gaughen, Paula Selby, Yafa Minazad, and Kim Miller).

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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