H20 Lady.

Planning for this swim came together very very quickly. It was nothing short of a whirlwind. With the very generous blessing of my boss, Sharma, and the ability to work remotely while in Hawaii, I reached out to my good friend from college, Rachel Ross. Rach lives on Oahu and I haven’t seen her in over 12 years, but we connected on Facebook 4 years ago.  A while ago I told her (in jest) I would swim to visit her. Little did I know how close to reality that would come. She’s a beautiful person inside and out, mother of 3 and an incredible athlete (think Ironman wins, sub-3 hour marathons etc., and so I very rightly call her Crazy Lady Numero Uno).

A few email exchanges later Rach suggested I contact her friend Linda Kaiser. “Google her” Rach suggested. So I did. Linda is the only person in the world to have completed all 9 channel swims in Hawaii; 8 channels as a solo and the longest channel – the 76 mile Kaieiewaho Channel - as part of a 6-person relay. Linda and I hit it off immediately. Phone calls, emails, Linda very willingly imparted her knowledge – both as a local Hawaiian and channel swimmer. However, my recommended kayaker, Jeff Kozlovich, was laid up with 12 stitches in one of his ankles due to an accident a few days prior. “If I was doing this swim, this is the guy I would want kayaking for me: Steve Haumschild. Call him.” So I did. Steve was available and ready. Everything was coming together.

4 days before my flight Linda alerted me to a potential problem. My tide window coincided with the mysterious but clockwork onshore swarm of Hawaiian Box jellyfish 8-12 days after a full moon. I was shocked. Mother Nature clearly had other plans for me. Linda urged me not to worry. Still, with the trauma of our SF-SB relay still very fresh in my mind, I couldn’t help but worry. My fear of jellyfish stings was a motivating factor for this swim and I guess Mother Nature was ensuring I get my money’s worth. Ok then. Game on.

On Tuesday 6th November, Joe and I hopped on a plane bound for Honolulu, Hawaii. The next morning we had planned to meet Linda. Walking out of the hotel onto the street to wait, I couldn’t help but notice the winds. If it were too windy I thought, no one would be willing to pilot me across the Channel. A few minutes later a Toyota truck with the license plate, H20 Lady, rolled up. It was Linda, my Hawaiian guardian angel.

For the next 3 hours, Linda patiently guided me through the final preparations for my swim, planned for tomorrow. We carb loaded on scrumptious Malasadas, we toured the eastern part of Oahu, with a pit stop at Sandy Beach, Linda introduced me to the lifeguards. This was where I would end my swim. A beautiful, golden sand beach. A surf entry and surf exit were on my list of fears for this swim, but I was pleasantly reassured by the lifeguards that they would be on hand to guide me onto the beach. All I had to do was swim, they told me. Um, ok….