Jellies Don't Chase Bruckner Away This Time

Jellies Don’t Chase Bruckner Away This Time

The North (Irish) Channel has them. The Kaieiewaho Channel has them (between Oahu and Kauai in Hawaii). They are all over the place in each ocean of the world. But several people have tried to cross Monterey Bay, south of San Francisco, and the jellyfish have stopped them. The massive amounts of venom were just too much for even the most hardy of swimmers.

So with a goal greater than simply his crossing, Bruckner Chase simply started with a shortie wetsuit and then threw on a full wetsuit to become the second person to cross the 25 miles (40K) of Monterey Bay in 13 hours and 50 minutes.

Bruckner Chase was motivated to finish because he was kicking off the Blue Ocean Film Festival and drawing attention to the National Marine Sanctuary at Monterey Bay.

I really wanted to do the swim this year without a wetsuit, but I hit my first jellyfish in 30 minutes and it just got worse and worse,” explained Bruckner to the local Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper. “It was almost like a mountain climber deciding that going without oxygen isn’t going to work that day..”

Chase asked, “How will people judge what I do? Is it OK to swallow some pride and ego and make sure I make it across? I made the decision to put pride and ego aside today, and I’m glad I did. I’d rather be here after 14 hours than climb out after an hour, missing out on everything we encountered as a group all the way across.”

His wife Michelle made the call. “It was rough, but about an hour into it, the jellies became overwhelming. It was pretty obvious early on that it was either going to be get in the boat or get into the wetsuit.”

His decision was a good one as the Bay was blanketed by the jellies towards the end. Despite the traditions of the marathon swimming community, the show (Blue Ocean Film Festival) had to go on.

But even with a wetsuit, it was clear on his face that the swim was traumatic and tough (see above).

Note: The incredible Cindy Cleveland remains the only swimmer ever to conquer Monterey Bay without a wetsuit, a pioneering swim that she did in 17 hours in 1983. The unassuming and unheralded swimmer, coached with Siga Rose and a contemporary of Lynne Cox, Penny Dean and John York, also remains the only person to circumnavigate Catalina Island (in 24 hours).

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones
Steven Munatones