Posted: Aug 7, 2012 11:29 PM by Keli Moore
Swimming from Catalina Island to the Palos Verdes Peninsula was a 20 mile journey through darkness for a 54-year-old San Luis Obispo man.
The swim first became popular in the 1920s when the Wrigley family, who owned Catalina island at that time, wanted to attract more tourism. So they staged an event, swimming the channel, but only one person finished.
Fast forward to 2012, it's one of the worlds most popular open water swims, but it's also one of the most challenging.
The swim began at midnight Aug. 5, 2012 for Dave Van Mouwerik, who had over 20 treacherous miles to go.
"It's a little bit creepy because you are swimming at night. The way that I have described it is it is like you are at the seam of the sky and water. It is dark water that is 4,000 ft. deep, " said Dave Van Mouwerik, one day after the challenge.
He swam freestyle with minimal insulation and equipment.
"This is 1:15 a.m., this is 2:15 a.m.," he said pointing at a chart mapping out his swim.
It was hours of swimming through jellyfish, kelp beds, and navigating past cargo ships hundreds of feet long that towered 12 stories above the water.
"Everyone's main question to me is what about sharks?" he said. But the sharks were the least of his concern. The current, cold water temps and wind is what can set a swimmer back, he explained.
And in case of an emergency, he was not alone at sea.
"Off to the right there is a paddle boarder and a kayaker," he said.
A chartered fishing boat also carried 10 friends and family members.
"You think about quitting, but you are gearing up for this one single day for 7 months," Van Mouwerik said.
The strategy, "I take in 300 calories every hour: GU, a protein drink, and two Fig Newtons. I would get a light put toward my face, and I knew it was feeding time," he explained.
The mentality, primitive.
"You gradually shrink down into a world of just swimming," he said.
The time: 12 hours 9 minutes. It was noon Monday.
"The end was on the north end of Palos Verdes Peninsula," he said.
His finish line was crawling out of the ocean onto the rocky shore, and it was success.
More than 30 swimmers make an attempt every summer at swimming the Catalina Channel - and about 22 make it.
Van Mouwerik received a validation by the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation for his accomplishment. The cost is around $550 for the validation, and to charter a boat costs a few thousand.
The English Channel is also one of the most popular swims, and this could be next on Van Mouwerik's list.
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