Swim From The Island of the Blue Dolphins

Swim From The Island of the Blue Dolphins

Swim From The Island of the Blue Dolphins

Courtesy of KAATSU Global, Huntington Beach, California.

The California Channel Islands are a chain of eight islands located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California. Five of the islands are part of the Channel Islands National Park. The Channel Islands include:

* Anacapa Island, 20 km at its closest point from California mainland
* Santa Cruz Island, 30 km at its closest point from California mainland
* Santa Rosa Island, 44 km at its closest point from California mainland
* San Miguel Island, 43 km at its closest point from California mainland
* Santa Catalina Island, 32.3 km at its closest point from California mainland
* Santa Barbara Island, 61 km at its closest point from California mainland
* San Clemente Island, 84 km at its closest point from California mainland
* San Nicolas Island, 100 km at its closest point from California mainland

San Nicolas Island is nearly 100 km from Point Mugu and 112.8 km from Point Vicente on the mainland. While no solo swimmers have yet crossed this massive big-water channel, the Ventura Deep Enders completed a 6-person relay in 33 hours 37 minutes in October 2015. Zach Jirkovsky, Jim McConica, John Chung, Stacey Warmuth, Tom Ball, and Tamie Stewart have been the only group of swimmers to have swim from the most distant Channel Island to the coast of California. They were supported by coach and crew chief Theo Schmeeckle, escort pilot Greg Elliot, kayakers Allen Ball, Jill Ball, Bob Howell, Patty Howell, Pam Jirkowsky and Carol Lacy together with Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association observers Lynn Kubasek and Jax Cole. Their unprecedented channel crossing was nominated for the 2015 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

While the island is currently controlled by the United States Navy and is used as a weapons testing and training facility, it has a long history as tribal lands. Archaeologists believe that San Nicolas Island was occupied by humans for some 10,000 years. For thousands of years, San Nicolas was the home of the Nicoleño Native American tribe that inhabited the island until 1835.

Many California schoolchildren read the children’s novel Island of the Blue Dolphins written by Scott O’Dell about a Nicoleño girl who was unknowingly left behind when the tribe was forcibly moved to the mainland. She live alone on the island for 18 years before she was found in 1853. A film adaptation of Island of the Blue Dolphins was also released in 1964.

Hundreds of human remains and burial objects that date back to the late 1800s have been kept in museums and collections in California. Tribal leaders have worked to bring them back to San Nicolas for reburial. Chairman Mark Macarro of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, who were culturally affiliated with San Nicolas Island, explained in a letter to the California Governor, “To us, they are our relations that deserve the dignity of being reinterred and cared for under tribal custom and tradition.”

Four federally recognized tribes including the Pauma, Rincon and Pechanga bands of Luiseño, and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash were all culturally affiliated with the island.

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