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Monday, October 15, 2012

The Good Luck Charm In The Channel Islands

Tina Neill (shown on left) is a prolific marathon swimmer and quietly successful channel swimming record holder in the English Channel (13 hours 22 minutes doing backstroke), Catalina Channel (10 hours 37 minutes doing backstroke) and San Clemente Channel (52 miles or 83.6 km in 28 hours 41 minutes). She updated the fascinating and real-life history of the Catalina Channel Rabbit's Foot.

What is remarkable is the undefeated and unblemished record of success for those who have been in possession of the Catalina Channel Rabbit's Foot.

This Lucky Rabbit’s Foot history and thread of success dates back to the summer of 1981.

Pat Hines originally presented this good luck charm to Richard Marks, who carried it on the escort boat for his August 30th 1981 attempt of the 20 mile Catalina Channel. Richard became the 43rd person to swim solo across the Catalina Channel, in 11 hours 28 minutes.

Pat Hines trained with Richard and also successfully completed a solo swim that same day in 11:17. Pat is recorded as the 42nd solo Catalina Channel Swimming Federation swimmer.

A few years later, Richard Marks was a support member on Mike Suttle’s swim. Richard passed the lucky Catalina Channel Rabbit’s Foot to Mike, who on August 24th 1986 became the 61st person to successfully complete the swim (in 11:13).

Mike Suttle gave the Rabbit’s Foot to Scott Zornig. On September 27th, 1999, Scott became the 93rd person to navigate the Channel and his final time was 10:08.

On October 3rd, 2001, Scott passed the lucky Catalina Channel Rabbit’s Foot along to Jim Fitzpatrick. Just like the others before him, Jim successfully crossed the Channel, and in the process, became the 101st swimmer to accomplish this feat in 9:47.

July 20th 2002, the Rabbit’s Foot accompanied Jim Fitzpatrick, Brendan Halffman, Mike Suttle, Craig Taylor, Dave Yudovin, and Scott Zornig as they became the first to swim as a 6 person relay from San Clemente Island to San Clemente, California – a distance of almost 60 miles in 33:08.

Jim Fitzpatrick then passed the Rabbit’s Foot to Forrest Nelson for the 111th successful crossing of the Catalina Channel in 10:35 on October 5th 2004.

The legacy was handed to Michele Santilhano who swam Catalina on 17th September 2007 in 13:08. Michele is the 142nd swimmer to cross.

In 2008, the Rabbit’s Foot made at least 2 successful Catalina crossings – with Dave Galli on August 22nd (10:35, the 153rd crossing) and Christopher Roberts on September 19th (13:50, 160th).

Later that same summer, from September 31st to October 1st, the Rabbit’s Foot accompanied Jim Fitzpatrick on his unprecedented successful solo swim from Catalina to Newport Beach (29 miles or 46.6 km in 14:59).

On August 14th, 2009, Jim passed the Rabbit’s foot to Jen Schumacher, who became the 168th person to cross the Catalina Channel in a time of 9:02, the fastest crossing of the Rabbit’s Foot yet.

Then in 2011, Jen gave the Rabbit’s Foot to Forrest Nelson, who circumnavigated Catalina Island between the days of July 5th and 7th. It was the longest solo journey the Rabbit’s foot has taken (48 miles or 77.2 km) in a final time of 25:35.

In September 2011, Forrest passed the Rabbit’s Foot to Tina Neill, who was attempting to swim from Laguna Beach, California to San Clemente Island. The currents held Tina back for nearly a year. From September 4th to 6th 2012, she swam from San Clemente Island to the Mainland. 53.95 miles (86.6 km) in 28:41.

Now, 31 years later, the lucky Catalina Rabbit’s foot continues to bless open water swimmers. So far, it has successfully traveled over 369 miles (594 km) while accompanying 10 solo crossings of the Catalina Channel. Every marathon swimmer in possession of the Rabbit’s Foot has completed their goal including Grace van der Byl who set the Catalina Island to mainland record in 7 hours 27 minutes.


Copyright © 2012 by Catalina Channel Swimming Federation

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