Farallones Island Relay Shout-out

Farallones Island Relay Shout-out

Kimberley Chambers of the Night Train Swimmers is looking for five tough-minded and physically strong women to become the first all-female team to swim 30 miles from the California coast near the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallones Island. “It is not an easy swim,” explained Kimberley who picked up swimming as a result of a near amputation of one of her legs. “We are looking for hardy swimmers who can withstand water temperatures in the low- to mid-50s (10-12°C), rough conditions and are comfortable swimming in the Red Triangle.”

For more information or to submit your name for the June 4th attempt that has already been approved by the Coast Guard and will be guided by the pilot and crew that just successfully completed the first mixed-gender swim last week, contact Kimberley here.

A video of last week’s Farallones Island relay is here.

Darrin Connolly, a member of this relay, explains in great detail about their 14 hour 45 minute swim, “Sunrise swimming at the gate and sunset finishing at the Farallones. It’s exactly what ended up happening with some gritty swimming in between.

It was so great to see all the interest and people following the swim, urging us on to finish. There is no reception out there to get messages of any kind, stops about 12-14 miles outside the Golden Gate Bridge. So on the way back when you get past that point all the messages come flooding in. Its an overwhelmingly good feeling to then know, we weren’t alone out here. People back home were watching and wondering and hoping just like us. We even got congrats from the other side of the world before we reached the dock. GPS is pretty cool.

The swimming itself was adventurous, thrilling and very very tough. We did get a tremendous boost from a massive 5.2 ebb at the start. As it rumbled out the Golden Gate Bridge. I thought this might be the swiftest current I’ve ever seen out there. Our lead swimmer Phil Cutti covered around 6-7 miles in the first hour. I went second. After I finished, we were over 10 miles from The Golden Gate two hours in. You’d think that would make us feel pretty good, and on some level I’m sure it did. But when i looked around there wasn’t many smiles because like most great marathon Open Water swims this one got tougher towards the further we went. The last mile and a half took us nearly two hours. The water temp gradually dropped the entire way until bottoming out around 50°F (10°C) right at the Islands. I’m not exactly sure why the water is so cold out there, but I do know the water depth drops pretty dramatically past the Islands. My best guess is maybe some of that icy water from the deep ocean makes it’s way up to the Farallones. Seven miles past that the Pacific Ocean drops to more than a mile deep, so there has got to be some super chilly water in that general area.

Conditions were rough for us pretty much the whole time. The boat rocked so violently that if you were up and moving around it was hold on tight or you’re going down hard. We faced 8-10 foot swells and a constant headwind, creating this nasty steep wind chop coming right in our faces. It never stopped all day long. Lots of water being swallowed and strokes interrupted as you were forced under the surface. We all did exactly one hour legs until the the 15th and last leg when Dave Holscher gutted it out close to the Island for 45 minutes. I ended up being the second-to-last swimmer and was more than a little freaked out about swimming right next to the Farallones and elated to let Dave get the glory of slapping the buoy.

As it was most of my one hour leg was within a mile of the Islands and we had to make a sharp right turn to get lined up to enter the cove where the buoy is anchored. The boat moved in that direction away from me, trying to coax me into following and getting us in better position to finish. I saw a couple good size jellyfish on that last turn, about 4-5 feet beneath me.

The biggest keys for us was having a great crew and all six swimmers came to play that day. There were no letdowns and everyone gained us some distance to that sweet finish, which felt so good as the sun disappeared.

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones