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Thursday, June 5, 2014

When Things Go South, Vito Bialla Looks Up

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Below is a first-hand report by Vito Bialla of Sueño 88's attempt to swim across the 163 km Sea of Cortez.

"Back on shore. In brief, we left under perfect conditions at 9 am making great speed. Wind filled in for normal evening breeze at 10 knots that night. The sun set and we had 20 knots by 10 pm. Everybody got stung by jellyfish at least three to six times per one-hour shift.

Sea Safe works, but not 100%. It enabled us to keep swimming.

The entire team was beyond belief in bravery and performance; not a moment of fear or anticipation about getting in the water.

By midnight, 25 knots and 5-6 foot seas with whitecaps breaking. We worked through stings and tough weather all night.

A little after sunrise, we had 25-30 knots and a forecast called for more bad conditions ahead all day and the second night. The waves came from the side so the boat rolled back and forth. It was a huge challenge to go below, much less sleep.

Everything not nailed down fell on the floor. The water cooler slid across the back deck and landed on my head while laying down. The TV crashed and landed on the floor and so on. The boat was great, but the conditions required great caution to prevent injury just moving about.

At 7:30, we considered all our input and chose option to abandon the swim.

We swam 22 hours and covered 42 nautical miles [78 km]. We swam just about halfway. That day we celebrated Luane [Rowe]'s 25th birthday and agreed to all come back next year. We could have easily completed this swim barring bad weather. Jellyfish are a nuisance, but no longer a knockout punch; thank you Sea Safe and Carbo-Pro kept us moving and strong

Members of the Night Train Swimmer's Sueño 88 team: Captains Vito Bialla, Alejandro Abarroa, and Antonio Caballero, and swimmers David Ogden, Mauricio Prieto, Luane Rowe, Richard Ernst, Shannon Navarro, and Susan Moody Prieto.

The Night Train Swimmers will next cross the Raccoon Strait from Angel Island to Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay on September 14th, a 1-mile crossing. For more information on the Night Train Mile open to the public, visit nighttrainswimmers.org.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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