Mike Spalding, Totally Enveloped By Mother Earth

Mike Spalding, Totally Enveloped By Mother Earth

Mike Spalding, an inductee in the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame for his seven channel swims (out of eight) in the islands, explained why he does marathon swimming, specifically across the various channels of the Hawaiian Islands.

In the ocean, you’re totally enveloped by Mother Earth. She’s around you, she’s hugging you, she’s in every pore of your body. That’s a very special place to be.”

God’s unspoiled creation. That’s our church.”

Mike knows well, very well.

Over the years, he has seen the good (crystal-clear aqua blue waters throughout the Hawaiian Islands), the bad (unrelenting whitecaps and strong currents in the channels) and the ugly (he was attacked by a shark during one of his channel swims).

Mike is the oldest person to successfully cross the 26-mile Kaiwi (Molokai) Channel as well as an impressive body of work that includes the 8.8-mile Auau (Maui) Channel, the 9.3-mile Kalohi (Lanai-to-Molokai) Channel, the 7-mile Alalakeii (Kahoolawe-to-Maui) Channel, the 8.4-mile Pailolo (Maui-to-Molokai) Channel, the 17-mile Kaulakahi (Kauai-to-Niihau) Channel and the 17-mile Kealaikahiki (Kahoolawe-to-Lanai) Channel. But the odds caught up with him when he was caught short by a cookie-cutter shark attack during his 30-mile Alenuihaha (Hawaii-to-Maui) Channel in 2009.

Cold water, hypothermia, rough water, seasickness, lack of endurance, warm water, hyperthermia, jellyfish and a change in the tides are often reasons for calling a swim short, but it was an actual shark attack that caught Mike short on his latest swim.

But he is back in the saddle, ready for enjoy his special place in the open water.

Upper photo shows Mike and fellow Molokai Channel swimmer Kelly Gleason from Hana Hou Magazine, the magazine of Hawaiian Airlines. Lower photo shows Mike after his shark attack.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones