The Muenzer Family - Mega Logistics At Play Across The Catalina Channel

The Muenzer Family – Mega Logistics At Play Across The Catalina Channel

John Muenzer got back into the marathon swimming game in big style.

With his 10 hour 15 minute crossing of the 32.2 km Catalina Channel today, he not only became the oldest person to complete the Grand Slam of Open Water Swimming, but he also took care of a Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming achievement.

And he did it with lots and lots of family and friends on his escort boat Bottom Scratcher, at the finish on Palos Verdes Peninsula on the Southern California mainland, in the water as pace swimmers, and in the airplane flying a private plane as he walked onshore at Smuggler’s Cove [fly-by at finish shown below]. His wife Mary, and his sons Joe [shown below as a drone operator] and Ray [shown above as a pace swimmer] were on the boat while daughter-in-law Amanda were handling some of John’s 11 grandchildren on shore who were part of his welcome part.

The logistics in getting all the family and friends from Ohio to California for the Mega Swim was significant. It made sense that MegaCorp Logistics was his title sponsor. Bob Klare, President of MegaCorp Logistics, said, “We are extremely excited to be part of this monumental event. We are inspired and in awe of what John has accomplished – and is continuing to accomplish – and we are happy to be able to support his efforts. Like John, MegaCorp takes pride in always going above and beyond and accomplishing the seemingly impossible for our clients. We are thrilled to be part of such a MEGA Swim.”

After his 24 hour 12 minute crossing of Lake Erie, Muenzer completed a 12 hour 7 minute 37 km Tampa Bay Marathon Swim at the age of 47. A few months later, he followed up with a 33.5 km English Channel crossing in 13 hours 12 minutes and then a 45.9 km 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Swim in 2018 in 9 hours 22 minutes. Last year, he decided to start training for the Catalina Channel under the tutelage of Marcia Cleveland.

Coach Cleveland pushed Muenzer hard, but strategically, training more and more each month, building up to a crescendo…that was interrupted by shoulder problems. “I had to take four days off of training which worried me, but then I took a cortisone shot and wore a cortisone patch that really worked well,” recalled Muenzer. Throughout the Catalina Channel crossing, he kept a steady pace of 50 strokes per minute with an occasional 6-beat power kick that quickly propelled him through the turgid Pacific.

At 60 years old, Muenzer become the oldest person and 27th person in history to accomplish the Grand Slam of Open Water Swimming which includes the English Channel, 20 Bridges, Catalina Channel, and Tampa Bay Marathon Swim.

Other Grand Slammers include T. Scott Coleman (achieved at the age 46), Kathleen Wilson (age 41), David Blanke (45), Forrest Nelson (41), Samantha Simon (20), Craig Lenning (31), David Barra (45), Penny Palfrey (48), Scott Richards (51), Dan Richards (54), Darren Miller (29), Barbara Held (58), Cindy Walsh (49), Ron Collins (51), Doug McConnell (56), Anthony McCarley (54), Bridgette Hobart (51), Katie Benoit (36), Chris Burke (53), Dr. Mark Smitherman (57), Marcy MacDonald, DPM (54), James Loreto (45), Maureen Montgomery (57), Kristian O’Donovan (38), Marcia Cleveland (54), and Karen Zemlin (51).

And true to form, Muenzer’s go-to in-swim and post-swim meal was unusual: Lay’s potato chips and Coca-Cola…which has been serving him well for decades.

His menu for the Catalina Channel includes chocolate, Lay’s potato chips, peanut butter and jelly squares, cans of Coca-Cola, tea, and tonic water (to help with calf cramps that never came about). And some Gold Fish Crackers from his trusty escort kayaker Barb Schumacher (when potato chips were not readily available on his escort kayak).

Listen to International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame chairperson Ned Denison talking with Muenzer a few years ago:

In addition to Barb Schumacher, Linda Simons was John’s other escort kayaker while Don Van Cleve and Linda Bamford served as CCSF observers. Mike Carson, Bobbi Carson, Dr. William Dillon, and Mike Tschantz-Hahn were John’s other support crew members with Keith Bell, captain of the Bottom Scratcher.

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Steven Munatones