On November 23rd, the Friday after the American Thanksgiving holiday, a group of swimmers completed a tradition for the Aulea Swim Club on Oahu. They swam across the Auau channel from the island of Lanai to Maui.

The Hawaiian word ‘Aulea’ means ‘swimming together harmoniously’ and describes exactly how these 11 swimmers crossed the Maui Channel last week. Divided in 2 groups based on speed and escorted by safety boats, the swimmers found themselves up against a strong current, unexpectedly pushing them south of their intended course and making the 8.9-mile route much longer than anyone anticipated.

To prepare for the crossing, the swimmers met for endurance ocean swims each weekend, gradually increasing their distances. The highlight of the training occurred during one swim in Waikiki when the swimmers came across a monk seal and a reef shark at the same time. Their longest training swim was 4 hours 30 minutes in length.

Since most swimmers came from a background of competitive pool swimming, they were challenged during each training session to think as a team and to learn to swim together in the ocean as a group.

The groups were accompanied by volunteer parents in kayaks who supplied liquids and nutrition. Both the training swims and the final event included short hydration stops every 30 minutes and nutrition on the hour, such as goo and gummy bears.

This is the sixth time Aulea swimmers have cross the Auau Channel. Inspired by local Triple Crown swimmer Michael Miller, the first crossing was accomplished in 2004. This year the 7 age-group swimmers and four adult swimmers ranged up to 56 years old as they swam through the jellyfish aquarium.

The proud age groups swimmers included Josh BittickEric ComptomCelia ComptomJaek Horner,Cameron LyonNicholas Zachmeier, and Skylar Webb. Their adult teammates included Van Cornwell,Katie DeMieriMark Baker, and Alex Webb.

Top photo is courtesy of Terry Sholin. Underwater photo is courtesy of Matt Bittick. Close-up is courtesy of Mark Baker.
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source


 

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