Starts And Finishes In The Hawaiian Islands

Starts And Finishes In The Hawaiian Islands

This week, The Daily News of Open Water Swimming will describe the slight differences between the start and finish rules of marathon swims around the world.

Today, we will look at the starts and finishes in the Hawaiian Islands.

For recognized swims in Hawaii according to the Hawaiian Channels Swimming Association, that patterned its rules after the Channel Swimming Association, starts and finishes are dry land to dry land where the swimmers start on land above the high water mark with no body of water behind. They must finish on land above the high water mark with no body of water beyond. Swimmers cannot start on a jetty or end on a jetty.

Similar to swims in Cape Town, South Africa, channel swimmers and their escort boats take great care to eliminate the risk of being tossed by waves or slammed against topographic features of the shoreline that can cause harm, especially with dangerous coral reefs, sharp rocks and (occasionally) large surf present at both the start and finish.

In the early years of the Maui Channel (Au Au) Swim, the finish was in the harbor at Lahaina on Maui where the swimmers touched a rock on the breakwater. Since then, at the start of the Maui Channel Swim, the lead-off swimmer on the relay teams and the individuals get counted onshore before the start at Club Lanai on the island of Lanai. Then they walk out to start the race about one meter of water, depending on the tide, as they line up by the end of the pier. The solo swimmers who want the swim to be recognized must go ashore, then walk out to the starting line through the shallow water. The timing is from the pier to the finish line onshore at the Kaanapali Beach Resort on the Kaanapali coast of Maui.

Jeff Kozlovich comments on one of his more difficult finishes where he helped out, “There is so much diversity here…some beaches are sandy and are relatively easy to start or finish. Some are harder and some very dangerous. When Bill Goding, Quinn Carver, Brian Denaro and Jennifer Schumacher swam from Barking Sands on Kauai – an easy start – to Ni’ihau, we had a surprise at the finish. The only way we could learn what was in store for there was from Google Earth, but that did not prepare us for the reality – people with guns and a 75-yard-long razor-sharp lava rock shelf that the swimmers would have to cross in one foot of water with four-foot waves churning across. Quinn, the only surfer, made it with difficulty and numerous cuts and scrapes, the rest touched bottom right outside the surf and went back to the boat.”

Jeff is an experienced beach lifeguard on Oahu and gave the swimmers his advice when they were just outside the surf, “I said don’t go in. It is way too dangerous. We were four hours away, at least from medical help. [Looking left and right], it appeared no different as far as we could see in either direction..”

In this case, safety was the foremost on everyone’s minds. But Quinn, a veteran surfer, made it to shore with much difficulty and numerous cuts and scrapes to show for it. The rest touched bottom right outside the surf and went back to the boat.

The Molokai (Kaiwi) channel has a similar landing just north of Sandy Beach on [the east side of] Oahu. Jeff explains, “If you miss Sandy Beach, a 200-yard stretch that is the favorite of local body surfers, you’ll find dangerous conditions on both sides where you would be lucky to just touch some rock.”

Note: A list of channel swimmers in Hawaii is here. If there are any updates or corrections to this Hawaii channel swimmer list for the Kaiwi Channel (26 miles (42K) between Molokai and Oahu), the Kalohi Channel (9.3 miles (14.9K) between Lanai and Molokai), the Alalakeiki Channel (7 miles (11.2K) between Kahoolawe and Maui), the Palilolo Channel (8.5 miles (13.6K) between Maui and Molokai), the Alenuihaha Channel (30 miles (48.2K) between Hawaii and Maui), the Kaulakahi Channel (17 miles (27.3K) between Kauai and Niihau), the Kealaikahiki Channel (17 miles (27.3K) between Kahoolawe and Lanai), the wildly popular Auau Channel (8.8 miles between Lanai and Maui) and the Kaieiewaho (Kauai) Channel (72 miles between Oahu and Kauai), please email the Editor-in-Chief here.

Also, if any swimmer on the Hawaii channel swimmer list was at least 50 years old at the time of their successful crossing, please email the Editor-in-Chief so these swimmers can be added to the Hawaiian Islands Channel Half Century Club.

Photo of the Maui Channel (Auau).

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