The Daunting Task Of Swimming The California Coast

The Daunting Task Of Swimming The California Coast

STANFORD. Phil Cutti, an exercise physiologist at Stanford’s Human Performance Lab at Stanford University talked about the myriad logistical issues he and his teammates from the Night Train Swimmers face in their 331-mile (532K) charity relay swim along the coast of California.

The Night Train Swimmers are training for this unprecedented 6-person relay from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles in September.

We will have at least two boats with us including Vito Bialla’s Sequel and a 70-foot charter boat. Towards the end, we’ll have 5-6 boats coming up from Los Angeles to meet us en route. Our pilots will have 9-hour shifts and will try to keep us as close to shore as practically possible. These men routinely have 15-hour shifts in the course of their regular jobs and they know the ocean, so we are in good hands.

We will try to keep as close as possible to our regular sleeping and eating patterns, given the fact that we will be swimming every sixth hour throughout the 7-8 day journey. Over the next 9 months, we will be going on 2-3 day practice swims to learn how we adapt to the environment and what stresses we will face. We will definitely pick up important data in these swims

Phil’s previous athletic career as a baseball pitcher seems to have ideally suited him for such an unprecedented marathon swimming relay. “I know enough to not invest too much emotional energy in the highs and lows. As a pitcher, you learn to calm yourself down. In baseball, you learn to react and anticipate to the situations that occur on the field. In the same way, we know we cannot always control the “game” or the marine environment that we will face, both mentally and physically. So, strength [of character], a positive attitude, flexibility and a trust that you have done everything to be prepared is important because sometimes we must adopt to situations on the fly out there in the ocean.”

The Night Train Swimmers are in the right place to be able to ideally train for their swim down the coast of California. “During our training swims, we can practice inside Aquatic Park to acclimate to the cold. We can swim outside and deal with the tides or we can go out and train out by the Farallons in rough conditions against giant swells and with and against the we are ready. We go out 2-3 times per week at times.”

And they are going to have to be ready for everything. “We know we are going to hit some rough spots. Around Half Moon Bay and around Big Sur. Fortunately, the tides along the California coast are predominantly southernly so we have that advantage. But we also know it is going to be an adventure.”

The Night Train Swimmers will be tracked by GPS that will be available on their website. “We also tested out a system that provides real-time streaming of what we are facing out there. We went out to the Farallons and it worked the entire 28-mile distance until we were very close to the islands.”

331 miles is the planned distance along the rhumb line, but Phil knows they will actually swim further. Both because they will be going up and down some decent swells for much of the distance, but also because they probably will veer out further from the coast than planned at times. “Vito and his friends from the sailing and piloting communities have spent a lot of time working on the course and logistics. We are in good hands.”

The audacity and logistics behind the swim from San Francisco to Los Angeles are something else. But the Night Train Swimmers have the right stuff to get it done.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones