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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fearsome, Ferocious, Fickle Farallones Awaits The Irish

With Ned Denison traveling from Ireland to the desert to Arizona in the American Southwest to compete in the S.C.A.R Swim Challenge, we wondered how many Irish swimmers have done major swims in the western part of America or along its West Coast.

Precious few, it turns out. Besides Denison, Stephen Redmond, and Eddie Irwin, no Irish swimmers have attempted swims across the Catalina Channel.

Additionally, only Denison has attempted a swim between the California mainland and Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island San Miguel Island, Santa Barbara Island, or San Clemente Island, or across Lake Tahoe, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, or in any marathon swims from San Diego to Seattle.

But the waters off California has everything that has traditionally challenged the toughest and most hardy of ocean swimmers in the extreme outer niches: sharks, tidal flows, cold water (relatively speaking), jellyfish, and turbulent surface chop. And if there is one swim that could possibly raise the interest in contemporary Irish - especially in light of the notorious lack of success from other swimmers - is the mighty Farallon Islands.

Looking at the history of swimming of the Farallon Islands, swimmers from Lebanon to Cuba, and Americans from California to Illinois had made these attempts across the 27-mile (43 km) waterway, including most recently Joseph Locke, but no one from Ireland has ever made the attempt.

The timing is right, we believe, for Irish swimmers to make an attempt on the Farallon Islands for a successful crossing will require a swimmer who is strong enough mentally and physically to deal with cold water, rough currents, Great White Sharks and fickle conditions. The Farallons are a group of islands far, far west of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California where plump seals attract a good number of Great White Sharks and swimmers must deal with the Potato Patch, a truly scary area of turbulent seas.

The Farallon Islands were once described as 'the coldest, windiest, bleakest, nastiest spot in the American Pacific' and just might be the type of challenge that brings out the best in an Irish swimmer.

The treacherous waterway awaits.

Stewart's photo was provided by Bruckner Chase and Michelle Evans-Chase.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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