you're next in line... you're on the team."
And just like that I was no longer the back up swimmer. I was on the team. OMG...
NIGHT TRAIN SWIMMERS TO ATTEMPT RELAY SWIM FROM GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE TO FARALLON ISLANDS
Tiburon, California – May 16, 2011 – Night Train Swimmers, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises money for charity through swimming events, will attempt a 30-mile relay swim from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands on May 20, 2011. Three previous attempts failed including the last attempt March 14th falling just short of the Golden Gate Bridge, after swimming 13 plus hours, due to massive water runoff from the Sierra’s. This fourth attempt, which will be launched on Friday, May 20th, will be swum in the reverse direction, from the Golden Gate Bridge out to the Islands. Just like the English Channel, either direction is acceptable in the world of open water swimmers. Swimming through what is known as the “Red Triangle” - due to the historically-high concentration of Great White Shark attacks, the attempt is also serving as a fundraiser for Night Train Swimmers’ selected non-profit partners: Wounded Warrior Project, Semper Fi Fund and Navy Seal Foundation – all of which support and empower wounded veterans. With the average water temperature between the Farallon Islands and the Golden Gate Bridge currently around 52 degrees Fahrenheit, the swimmers must overcome the challenges of not only aquatic wildlife and uncertain sea conditions, but also hypothermia. A prior relay attempt in 2010 was abandoned when one of the swimmers experienced severe hypothermia after 42 minutes in the then-49 degree water. The team consists of six swimmers from the San Francisco area: Vito Bialla, Kim Chambers, Darrin Connolly, Phil Cutti, David Holscher and John Mathews. At 5:30 am the team will start swimming from under the Golden Gate Bridge to the South Farallon Island. They will swim continuously for 30 miles, until they reach the buoy at Fisherman’s Cove at the South Farallon Island. The team anticipates reaching the Islands at approximately 4:00 pm. More information can be found at Night Train Swimmers, as well as live GPS tracking and updates on May 20. Donations can be made through Night Train Swimmers by visiting the website.
And so, on May 20th 2011, piloted by SF Bar Pilot, Drew Aune, and supported by Ben Bialla and fellow Night Train Swimmers, Dr. Dave Ogden and Shannon Navarro, we embarked on the adventure of a lifetime.
I was swimmer #6, the only woman on a team with 5 men. Holy shit. No pressure. No pressure.
I remember being so incredibly nervous. There had already been 3 prior unsuccessful attempts, with rosters full of some amazing and talented open-water swimmers (Michelle Deasey, Matt Davie, Paul Lundgren, and Joe Locke).
I was only ever supposed to be the back-up swimmer and here I was, on the team. Expectations were high.
From the moment I stepped on the boat, all I could think was “Don’t fuck it up. Don’t fuck it up.”
Each time I swam I simply couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. It was exhilarating. EXHILARATING.
The water was really cold, but I was utterly mesmerized. I couldn’t help but smile and yell “Woo!” as the massive waves crashed over me as I swam.
And after almost 15 hours of continuous swimming (without wetsuits), adhering to English Channel swim relay rules, we did it.
WE DID IT!!!!!!
David Holscher slapped the buoy at the Farallon Islands to complete the swim in 14 hours, 45 minutes, 8 seconds. Mission accomplished!!!
And just like that we set 2 world records.
First relay swim to the Farallon Islands, and first female to participate in a swim to the Farallon Islands.
[Photo credits: Shannon Navarro]