Courageously Swimming Together To Kauai

Courageously Swimming Together To Kauai

All for one and one for all was certainly the theme among Linda Kaiser (Oahu), Randy Brown (California), Michelle Macy (Oregon), Joel Swartz (California), Billy Brown (Kauai) and Mike Spalding (Oahu). With an initial goal of 30-40 hours, they left the lonely, treacherous westernmost point on Oahu and headed 72 miles westward to the Emerald Island of Kauai.

One by one, they entered the rolling seas, going up and down the ocean swells, ignoring the pain of jellyfish, and supporting one another for nearly 48 hours. Their goal was to cross the long, lonely, dangerous stretch of water in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between the islands of Oahu and Kauai. The 72-mile Kaieiewaho Channel has never been crossed by swimmers…until early this Monday morning when the group finished in the dark on Kauai.

The intrepid group of hardy swimmers started at 5:30 am on Saturday and finished 47 hours and 55 minutes later in a remarkable swim that will go down in the annals of marathon swimming history.

The team of six was supported by an equally adept and tireless crew of six on a 50-foot trimaran called Kioloa (long and fast canoe in Hawaiian) owned by Mike Spalding. Over two days and one very long night, the group alternated legs while facing relatively mild winds of 10-15 mph until they reached the west side of Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai.

According to Kaia Hedlund, president of the Waikiki Roughwater Swim, “They swam one-hour shifts until they reached a point where they were only going ¼-mile per hour. Then they shifted to 30-minute shifts. They faced lots of Portuguese Man-o-War and jellyfish, resulting in every swimmer being stung. Linda had a shark come up to her with only its menacing head showing. [Although she has faced other sharks in other channels before,] she did jump immediately on the ama (outrigger canoe).”

Incredibly, the next swimmer, Randy Brown, bravely jumped in without pause and continued on to maintain strict adherence to local channel rules. Shark or no shark, the group was not about to stop – or bend any rules in any fashion. They were on a mission.

Believe me, I was not using my normal breathing pattern when I first went in,” explained Randy. “I was swiveling all over looking in every direction.”

Courage, teammate, commitment – and no hungry sharks – all add up to one of the most incredible relay swims of modern times.

Mike Spalding (age 63) is from Oahu. His last swim in the Alenuihaha Channel between the island of Hawaii and Maui was stopped when he was bit by a cookie cutter shark. Randy Brown (62) is from California. Linda Kaiser (60) is from Oahu and has swam all Hawaiian channels except the Kaieiewaho Channel (Oahu-Kauai). Joel Swartz (54) from California. Michelle Macy (33) is from Portland, Oregon and the first person to Clarence Strait in Alaska. Billy Brown (32), a swim coach, lives on Kauai.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones