A few years ago, one of my friends and mentors Amy Gubser swam across the Santa Monica Bay. She started in Malibu and finished in Palos Verdes, both spots I’d been to as a kid because I also grew up in Los Angeles. I filed the swim away in my mind and figured I’d get there eventually.
Well, this year was that year! Since travelling international hasn’t really been an option this year due to COVID, I figured this was the perfect time to give this swim a shot.
My crew for this swim was Mandy Hoskinson, Amy Gubser, Amy’s husband Greg Gubser, and our boat captain was Mike Chandler, Amy’s childhood friend who piloted her swim too.
We hopped in the boat in Marina del Rey and motored out to Malibu. I hopped in and swam to shore at Pirate’s Cove around 7pm. As I got to the beach, a big wave came up behind me and tumbled me over, taking my goggles! Luckily I was able to recover the goggles. On the beach, there was a couple on land who were surprised to see somebody show up from the water and asked they could take my picture. (I gave them my email, Hopefully they’ll send me a copy).
The swim got off to a good start, conditions were great. Earlier in the week, we almost cancelled the swim due to high winds and a small craft advisory. We waited out the forecast, and got super lucky. The water was pretty glassy, I felt pretty lucky. The water temperature was super comfortable, between 63-66ºF.
This swim had more wildlife than any I’ve ever had before. The water was so clear, I had at least 20 feet of visibility.
- Early on in the swim, I thought I saw a ray below me, and a few strokes later, confirmed that yup, definitely a ray (likely a stingray). It spooked me, but the ray didn’t pay much attention so we kept going.
- Once it got light in the morning, I saw a few fish swimming under me
- At one point the crew told me “oh there’s a big jelly” and when I looked to my right, it was actually a big shark. The shark didn’t pay attention to me either, so I tried to get it off my mind and keep going
- Dolphins! From the boat, we saw a dozen pods of dolphins over the course of the route. Near the start of the swim, I could hear a pod of dolphins but they were on the other side of the boat from me so I couldn’t see them directly. Toward the end I saw another pod briefly pass in front of me, but they didn’t linger.
As we got into the morning and the light came back, there was a thick layer of fog. The boat crew kept telling me land was close but I couldn’t believe them. Once we were about a half mile off shore, I could see the outline of the cliffs at the shore.
The last section of the swim had me swimming over kelp beds. Amy told me a trick ahead of time, just grab on to the kelp and push off it, it worked great. Greg hopped on a surfboard and paddled me in to the rocky shore, which was great because he helped watch the waves and suggest timing for me to pass, so I didn’t get pancacked on the rocks.
After 13h28m44s, I cleared the water line and finished the swim. I’m the 5th person to do this swim and am told this is the new course record! Hopefully after ratification, it’s confirmed.