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The California Triple Crown

Looking for a great marathon swimming bucket list challenge a little closer to home? Consider the California Triple Crown, consisting of arguably the three most iconic, historic solo marathon swims in California:

  • the Catalina Channel (first solo swim in 1927, and over 400 total)
  • the Santa Barbara Channel - defined as a cross-channel swim between the mainland and Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, or San Miguel Island. First swum as a relay in 1926, first solo in 1978, and 83 solos total.
  • the lengthwise (north/south) axis of Lake Tahoe. First swum by Fred Rogers in 1955, and 45 total.

California residents can essentially do all three of these swims without ever getting on a plane or obtaining a passport!

Thanks to SBCSA vice president Dave Van Mouwerik's diligent work in compiling data on past Lake Tahoe swims, it's now possible to compile a fairly authoritative list of "California Triple Crown" swimmers.

The first three (and currently only) swimmers to complete this challenge will be well-known to most readers:

  1. Kevin Murphy
    • Lake Tahoe - 13 hours, 56 minutes on July 24, 2003.
    • Catalina Channel - 15 hours, 23 minutes on August 8, 2003.
    • Santa Barbara Channel (Santa Cruz Island to Santa Barbara) - 17 hours, 31 minutes on September 23, 2007.
  2. Dave Van Mouwerik
    • Santa Barbara Channel (Anacapa Island to Oxnard) - 7 hours, 0 minutes on August 7, 2010.
    • Lake Tahoe - 13 hours, 51 minutes on August 14, 2011.
    • Catalina Channel - 12 hours, 9 minutes on August 6, 2012.
  3. Tina Neill
    • Catalina Channel - seven times, 2007-2014, in both directions, including a two-way, using both freestyle and backstroke.
    • Santa Barbara Channel (Santa Cruz Island to Oxnard) - 10 hours, 33 minutes on July 15, 2011.
    • Lake Tahoe - 11 hours, 18 minutes on August 31, 2015.

However, the list is likely to expand significantly in the coming years, with 46 individuals who have completed 2 out of the 3 swims.

30 swimmers have completed the Catalina and Santa Barbara Channels, but not yet Lake Tahoe:

  • Thomas Ball
  • John Chung
  • Cindy Cleveland
  • Marcia Cleveland
  • Ned Denison
  • Carol Schumacher Hayden
  • Peter Hayden
  • Lynn Kubasek
  • Stanley Leventhal
  • Marc Lewis
  • Michelle Macy
  • Anthony McCarley
  • Jim McConica
  • Evan Morrison
  • Jim Neitz
  • Forrest Nelson
  • Rendy Lynn Opdycke
  • Penny Palfrey
  • Kelley Prebil
  • Suzanne Riedinger
  • Claudia Rose
  • Kimberly Rutherford
  • Walter Bean Scott
  • Tamie Stewart
  • Scott Tapley
  • Peter Urrea
  • Kathleen Wilson
  • Hank Wise
  • David Yudovin
  • Scott Zornig

16 swimmers have completed Catalina and Lake Tahoe, but not yet the Santa Barbara Channel:

  • Asha Allen
  • Patti Bauernfeind
  • Kimberley Chambers
  • Cliff Crozier
  • Jim Fitzpatrick
  • Michael Goble
  • Amy Gubser
  • Tom Hecker
  • Ernie Hoftyzer
  • Scott Kaloust
  • Karl Kingery
  • Elaine Kornbau Howley
  • Craig Lenning
  • Joe Locke
  • Kirk McKinney
  • Sarah Thomas

The California Triple Crown list will be maintained and updated regularly by the Marathon Swimmers Federation, based on official results from the three respective sanctioning organizations.

Originally posted on "Farther, Colder, Rougher"

Posted by Evan Morrison on 3 March 2017 | permalink

San Francisco 24 Hour Relay

Six SBCSA board members (Cherie Edborg, Lynn Kubasek, Peter Hayden, Dave Van Mouwerik, Tanya MacLean, and Evan Morrison) recently gathered at the Dolphin Club in San Francisco to swim in the 4th annual 24 Hour Relay in Aquatic Park, organized by Suzie Dods.

Team SBCSA swam in continuous rotation of approximately one hour each, four times through the rotation, between 9am Saturday and 9am Sunday (Feb 4-5), in water measuring approximately 53F.

It was a fantastic weekend and team-building experience, and one of the great open-water swimming challenges around (especially for the money!). The Orange County contingent (Cherie, Lynn, Peter, Tanya) more than held up their end of the bargain despite the relative luxury of their home waters!

Respect and gratitude to Suzie Dods for creating this opportunity. Until next year!

Cherie, Dave, Lynn, Evan, Peter, Tanya

Posted by Evan Morrison on 2 March 2017 | permalink

A Father and Son's "Night Sea Journey"

When I was 23, I discovered what it is to swim; in my fifties I have been swept off my feet by marathon swimming.

My son Kyle has always been my main escort, manning a ten-and-a-half foot surfboard we call the Blue Beast. Three years ago my wife Lisa and I, and our other son, Adam, watched as his life was nearly taken from him, in a slow-moving horror show.

With filmmaker Michelle Aguilar, Kyle and I tried to capture this experience in a short, water-centric video....

A Night Sea Journey from Small Pumpkin Productions on Vimeo.

....A father and son explore the encountering of Self. Life presents herself to them, and through this they learn, in a small way, what it means to be human....

The filmmaker

Michelle has an M.A. in Social Documentation from the University of California, Santa Cruz and has produced numerous non-fiction multimedia projects in cultures and communities across the world. She is currently a Staff Producer at Meridian Hill Pictures in Washington D.C. You can learn more about Michelle and her work here.


To learn more about Kyle's illness, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, please visit here. Kyle's illness lasted through much of 2013 and some of 2014. He has recovered; he paddled for me in my 2015 Estero Bay Swim.

Posted by Dave Van Mouwerik on 1 March 2017 | permalink

2016 Season Recap and Awards Banquet

There were 17 attempts in 2016 and 12 successful swims. 10 of the successes were solo swims and 2 were relays. Congratulations to all our courageous athletes for a job well done.

  • Jul 15: Out, Around, and Back (Anthony McCarley, Dave Van Mouwerik, Asha Allen, Becky Margulies, Dan Simonelli, Scott Zacharda), Catalina Island to Santa Barbara Island. 24.4 miles in 16:01.
  • Jul 15: Out, Around, and Back, Santa Barbara Island circumnavigation. 5 miles in 3:06.
  • Sep 17: Rachel Horn, Anacapa Island to mainland. 12.2 miles in 6:54.
  • Sep 24: Peter Lofquist, Anacapa Island to mainland. 12.2 miles in 7:14.
  • Sep 30: James Cherry, Anacapa Island to mainland. 12.2 miles in 7:05.
  • Oct 9: Hank Wise, Anacapa Island to mainland. 12.2 miles in 4:56.
  • Oct 26: Russ Parker, Anacapa Island to mainland. 12.2 miles in 10:42.
  • Nov 4: Bob Burrow, Anacapa Island to mainland. 12.2 miles in 6:50.
  • Nov 4: Tiffany McQueen, Anacapa Island to mainland. 12.2 miles in 10:09.
  • Nov 4: Elizabeth Fry, Anacapa circumnavigation. 10.6 miles in 6:40.
  • Nov 4: Ned Denison, Anacapa circumnavigation. 10.6 miles in 6:40.
  • Nov 4: Fionnuala Walsh, Anacapa circumnavigation. 10.6 miles in 6:40.

Annual Awards Banquet

As with the past two years, the SBCSA banquet/dinner cruise was held on a 90’ yacht. 60 people attended on November 5th and enjoyed good food, scenic views, amazing company and great stories as we celebrated the successes of the class of 2016.

Elizabeth Fry, Ned Denison, Fionnuala Walsh

Scott Zornig and Chloe McCardel

Peter Lofquist

Jim Cherry

Russ Parker

Tiffany McQueen

In Brief

Board of Directors welcomes Tanya MacLean

Marathon swimmer Tanya MacLean has joined the SBCSA board of directors, replacing Rob Dumouchel who recently resigned to concentrate on his studies. Tanya successfully swam 12.4 miles from Anacapa to Oxnard in 2013. She also completed the S.C.A.R. Challenge and the 34-mile Red River of the North swim, in addition to numerous relays. Tanya is a USMS All American swimmer and served as open water chair of Southern Pacific USMS. The SBCSA welcomes Tanya and the energy and enthusiasm she brings to the board.

New SBCSA President: Evan Morrison

Evan Morrison, a SBCSA board member since 2011, becomes the third president in the 10-year history of the organization - after founder Emilio Casanueva (2006-09) and Scott Zornig (2009-16). Evan was the ninth person to swim from Santa Cruz Island to the mainland, and grew up in Santa Barbara. He now lives in San Francisco and continues to be active in the sport as co-founder of the Marathon Swimmers Federation and as a voting member of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

Where are they now? Anacapa swimmer Sam Allen

When Samantha ("Sam") Allen of Escondido, California swam from Anacapa Island to the mainland on June 5, 2015, she was a recently-minted graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Soon after crossing the channel in a quick 6 hours, 45 minutes, Lt. Allen deployed to the Middle East, where she is still stationed. On the occasion of Veteran's Day in the U.S. (November 11), we recognize Sam's service and that of all our veterans.

New Lifetime Member: Chloë McCardel

Chloë McCardel of Melbourne, Austrailia, who has completed twenty-one solo crossings of the English Channel, is the 57th lifetime member of the SBCSA. The SBCSA is grateful for Chloë's support and that of all our lifetime members.

For discounts on sanction fees and other benefits, please fill out the online form and become a Lifetime Member today!

Posted by SBCSA on 2 December 2016 | permalink

Tandem Swimming – Is the juice worth the squeeze?

by Scott Zornig

Marathon swimming is an expensive sport. My guess is that a 20-mile sanctioned solo marathon swim currently costs an individual $3000 to $5000 USD and this is prior to factoring in transportation, hotel accommodations and food. Chartering a vessel can be as much as 75% of the total cost of a marathon swim. As a result, some swimmers cut costs by sharing a boat and attempting a tandem swim with a person close in speed. Sharing a vessel not only yields a significant cost savings, but can also provide piece of mind as it may be comforting to know someone is in the water with you. A duo attempt may also produce a training partner as it is always important to practice together leading up to the endeavor.

Unfortunately, Tandem marathon swimming is not easy because no two swimmers are the exact speed. Even if the two swimmers are close, the fastest of the two swimmers must swim the pace of the slower swimmer. This may be fine for a few hours, but is not a great deal of fun for the faster swimmer when cold and/or hypothermia sets in. It is equally difficult for the slower athlete as he or she may feel constant pressure to “speed up” or risk getting dropped yielding a prematurely fatigued swimmer. The farther the swim is, the greater the chance of issues arising.

A swimmer needs to decide if the juice is worth the squeeze. Do the benefits (reduced cost, piece of mind and automatic training partner) outweigh the potential problems? If the answer is yes, the pair can increase the chance that both are successful by:

  • Identifying a partner who is very close in speed and has the ability to swim long distances in cold, rough open water.
  • Finding a partner who is willing to spend a great deal of time practicing and training together.
  • Securing a partner who shares similar toughness and mental fortitude.
  • Obtaining a partner who is completely comfortable sharing the glory, time, place in history and experience with you.
  • Chartering a vessel with a pilot who has experience escorting tandem swimmers.
  • Writing a swim plan where each swimmer agrees to speed, feeding times, duration of feedings, position in water, proximity to boat, side of boat etc.
  • Including in the plan all the possible “What if’s.” For example, “which swimmer exists the water if the two become separated by a few hundred yards and the boat cannot stay with both swimmers?” or “what is the call if one swimmer is inhibiting both swimmers chance of success?”

Tandem marathon swimming has benefits and the experience can be exciting to share with a swimmer/friend. The bottom line is that all factors should be carefully considered prior to making the decision to do it alone or together.

Posted by Scott Zornig on 1 December 2016 | permalink

It has been my pleasure to serve you...

After 8 years as serving as SBCSA’s president, it is time for me to say good bye. Effective December 1st, I will step down and Evan Morrison will take over as the SBCSA’s president.

It has been my honor to serve marathon swimmers and to hopefully, have contributed to the interest, growth and unification of traditional marathon swimming. If I made a small difference, then it was all worthwhile. I am grateful to have worked alongside an amazing board of directors, and that together, we successfully called attention to the swimming possibilities among all the California Channel Islands.

I have met many wonderful people in this sport….some who will remain lifelong friends. My intention was always to give to marathon swimming, but on so many levels, I was the one who received.

The 2016 banquet will be my last as a board member, but hopefully future banquets lie ahead for me as a swimmer.

As former Presidential candidate Ben Carson once said, “Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.” To this end, I plan to spend time supporting a passion which is assisting children with cancer……so there is a good chance you have not heard the last from me.

Happy traditional marathon swimming and may God bless you!

Posted by Scott Zornig on 27 October 2016 | permalink

October Successes - Hank Wise and Russ Parker

On Oct 9th, Hank Wise (age 48) of Huntington Beach, CA swam from Anacapa Island to Oxnard in 4 hours, 56 minutes, 54 seconds (observed by Dave Van Mouwerik). This is the second-fastest Anacapa-mainland swim of all-time and only 19 minutes off the record set by Jim McConica back in 2012. Congratulations Hank!

On October 26th, Russ Parker (age 59) from Laguna Niguel, CA, swam from Anacapa to mainland in 10 hours and 42 minutes. Russ finished south of Point Hueneme due to a strong current. His swim (observed by Cherie Edborg) was the 67th crossing since Cindy Cleveland first did it in 1978.

Hank Wise

Russ Parker

New Lifetime Members: Carol Sing and David Barra

Marathon swimming legends Carol Sing (left) and David Barra (right) are SBCSA’s newest lifetime members. They become 55th and 56th members of a generous collection of people who support marathon swimming and the SBCSA.

Posted by SBCSA on 27 October 2016 | permalink

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