Posted by Scott Zornig, 1 March 2012
Better late than never: Recognizing four 1980s-era relay swims
One piece of the SBCSA’s mission is to preserve the history of marathon swims in the Channel Islands. It recently came to our attention that there were some marathon relays in Santa Barbara and Ventura during the 1980’s. The SBCSA visited some of these relay members during February to review news articles, videos, observation reports and hear the remarkable stories. We were able to see enough evidence to conclude that these relays not only took place, but were successful. These true “pioneers” are now credited and listed on the SBCSA website and will be invited to the SBCSA banquet in November so we can honor them for their accomplishments.
The SBCSA thanks Herb Barthels, David and Beth Yudovin, and Beau and Bunny Gatch for their hospitality and help in recreating the past. They were full of great stores and are truly wonderful people. They also continue to be active swimmers. Beau (84) and Bunny (82) humbled “yours truly” in a swim workout at Ty Warner’s beautiful Coral Casino pool. In case you are interested, it only costs $200,000 for a lifetime membership at this 50 meter pool located on Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara. “Yours truly” did not mind Beau’s “swim lesson” as the pool, without question, was the nicest I have ever had the pleasure of swimming in. Sorry Olympic Club, but your pool is still my second favorite.
Santa Barbara Island History
Santa Barbara Island is located 37.7 miles off the Southern California coast from the Palos Verdes Peninsula. It is the smallest of the eight Channel Islands. The highest point on the island, Signal Hill, is 634 feet. The island has a total land area of 1 square mile. The island can actually be seen from the mainland on exceptionally clear days. Santa Barbara Island supports a very large sea lion rookery and seabird nesting colonies.
The first European visitor to the Channel Islands was Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. However, the island was named by Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino, who visited the island 60 years later on December 4, 1602, the feast day dedicated to Saint Barbara.
The first swim off the island was a relay done by Peter Attia, Jason Fox, Marc Lewis, Steve Lowe, Forrest Nelson and Ed Reynolds on 8/29/2006. The second swim was a two person relay of Tim Lawerence and Peter Zabel completed on 8/3/2007. The first and only solo swim was done by Penny Palfrey on 9/25/09. All relays and soloists finished at Pt. Vincente which is the same location where most Catalina Island swimmers exit the water.
There was an unsuccessful relay swim in in 2004 and an unsuccessful inter-island solo swim (Santa Barbara to Catalina) in 2011.
Interesting facts about SBCSA board members
- Dave Van Mouwerik, used to be the race director for the fun and challenging, Pismo to Avila Beach 6 mile swim. In 2003, he decided to end the swim for safety and liability reasons when a 50 year old women (who was on a unrelated training swim) was bitten and killed by a 15’ to 18’ great white less than 75 yards from shore and 200 yards south of the pier in 20” of water (this also happens to be the location of the finish line for Dave’s former event). Over the last several years, the seal population in Avila Bay has exploded resulting in several sightings of white sharks.
- The “Semana Nautica” 6 mile swim, which in English means “nautical or marine week”, is an annual swim directed by Jane Cairns. It is held in Santa Barbara in early July and has been on-going since the early 80’s. Jane has been race director since 1990 and runs an incredible event. Should you have an interest in this swim, please contact Jane at (805) 886-8123, email@example.com or visit the website at semananautica.com
- Evan Morrision has his own adventures in marathon swimming blog called Freshwater Swimmer. It can be found at freshwaterswimmer.com. Evan provides a great deal of important information on marathon swimming in this blog. Evan is amazing writer who always finds interesting topics to discuss.
- Ned Dension holds the record for the fastest swim off of Santa Cruz Island with a time of 10:26. He is also the Chairperson of the Swim Ireland National Open Water Committee and a member of the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association. Ned is well known for his Cork Ireland Long Distance Swim Camp
- Dean White was one of the original members of the SBCSA board which was founded in 2006. He is also an avid surfer who spends a lot of time surfing secret spots in Mexico.
- Lynn Kubasek has selflessly observed over 20 marathon swims during the last two years. Without people like Lynn, it would be impossible to document swims and preserve history. She also organizes a group of over 75 ocean swimmers from Orange County who regularly meet at Laguna Beach.
- Dale Mercker, a former University of Louisville swimmer, is a USMS All American with many top 10 times to his credit…but he has never done a marathon swim. He loves the sport of swimming so he selflessly gives of his time. Maybe a marathon swim will be in his not too distant future?
- “When” Jim Fitzpatrick is successful swimming around Manhattan Island in the summer of 2012, he will be the first SBCSA board member to complete the triple crown of marathon swimming. Good Luck Jim! We know you can do it.
- Finally, “yours truly” (Scott Zornig) has had failed more relay marathon swims than anyone in Channel Island history. In 2004, a relay team I put together failed to make it from Santa Barbara Island. In 2007, another relay I put together failed to make it from Catalina Island on the 80th anniversary of George Young’s Catalina swim. Later in 2007, still another relay I was on failed to make it from Santa Rosa Island. The bottom line is that I am either bad luck or an excellent predictor of inclement weather.