America's Channel Got Talent

America’s Channel Got Talent

The American Channel, formerly known as Massachusetts Bay, has been sitting dormant for nearly a century when it comes to marathon swimming.

But Greg O’Connor (shown on left) of the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association changed all that. With his vision and drive, he is reviving a swim that has attracted attention since 1915.

Earlier today under sunny but windy skies, 54-year-old Paul Rekoff of New York set off from White Horse Beach in Plymouth, Massachusetts to Provincetown in the P2P.

On Saturday, his New York colleague 62-year-old Mo Siegel will also attempt the P2P before he heads off to the Tsugaru Channel in Japan to complete his third channel in the Oceans Seven.

By aiming to complete the P2P across the American Channel, Paul Rekoff is hoping to replicate a crossing only a handful of individuals have achieved.

According to local lore, Harry Kemp, an American writer known as the Poet of the Dunes, first developed the idea of swimming point-to-point between Provincetown and Plymouth to create a symbolic link between the first colony and the first landing place in America. Three swimmers — Charlie Toth, Samuel Richards, and Henry Sullivan attempted the swim in 1915, but none were able to reach the other side.

The swim fell into obscurity until the 1950s when several people made unsuccessful attempts during a mid-century marathon swimming revival. Finally after nearly 2 more decades, 41-year-old Russell Chaffee achieved the first crossing of P2P in 14 hours 40 minutes in 1968.

Last August, the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association (MOWSA) sanctioned and reinvigorated the waterway with marathon swimming enthusiasm. MOWSA offered the swim as a solo sanctioned event to an exclusive group of experienced marathon swimmers. MOWSA President O’Connor led the charge, completing the swim in 10 hours 22 minutes. Janet Harris, David Barra, and Eileen Burke also completed the P2P among coolish 63ºF (17ºC) water, recreational boat traffic, variable weather conditions, marine life, and strong currents and tidal flows.

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Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming
Steven Munatones