This 27 mile swim turned into one of 32 miles because of the currents. The swim started on the west end of Molokai with an ending goal of the east end of Oahu. Because the Hawaiian Islands are really the tops of an underwater mountain range, the water is quite deep (2,300 feet) and there is no protection from other land masses; this swim is really in the open-ocean. As a result, the Channel is known for swells of up to 15 feet. Steady trade winds blow through the Islands, so the swells are usually topped with choppy waves. The water temperature was considerably more accommodating than it has been for our other swims, and was in the 75 – 78 range.
The Ka’iwi Channel is also known for its wildlife, and fortunately we only encountered jellyfish. Other recent swimmers before us encountered sharks that ended their swims.
It is no surprise that the Ka’iwi Channel has only been successfully swum by 38 solo swimmers. That’s one of the reasons that it is not as well-known (or as well-publicized) as, say, the English Channel, which has been successfully completed by some 1,300 swimmers. To keep it all in perspective, about 5,000 mountaineers have summited Mt. Everest.
Every marathon swim is different; having folks with local knowledge is critically important to a successful team, and nowhere is that more apparent than on the Ka’iwi Channel swim. A Long Swim partnered with the very experienced and capable hands of Matt Buckman. We also had the expertise of the Hawaii Channel Expert Linda Kaiser to ehlp us out.
As with our other marathon swims, one of the big motivations behind A Long Swim is the ability to raise contributions for ALS research, and it even took its name from the ALS acronym. To date, A Long Swim has raised more than $400,000 for ALS research, which makes it one of the top open water swims for charity in history. It is a very rewarding time to be funding ALS research, as the pace of discovery is accelerating all the time.
Since our last big swim, the circumnavigation of Manhattan Island in New York City in 2014, A Long Swim was granted status by the IRS as a 501(c)3 charity. To celebrate, we even changed the address of our website, to www.ALongSwim.org. The motivation for that was simple; if A Long Swim has taught us nothing else, it is that teamwork is indispensable for achieving our goals. Finding a cure for ALS works the same way, and teamwork and collaborative research will lead to one breakthrough after another. President Truman’s words, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit,” can apply to most situations, with marathon swimming and ALS research just being among them. Given our absolute dedication to teamwork, funds raised by A Long Swim will be directed to collaborative ALS research.
A Long Swim is a close partner with the Les Turner ALS Foundation, which will continue. The Foundation keeps very close contact with ALS researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago, as well as with ALS research being completed around the world. A Long Swim will coordinate with the Foundation to assure that the effect of every ALS research dollar is maximized.
Donations to A Long Swim are welcome, and can be made through this new website, www.ALongSwim.org, or by mail to:
A Long Swim
110 East Main Street
Barrington, Illinois 60010
Corporate sponsors are encouraged for this highly publicized swim, about which we will be eager to make announcements as they finalize.
See you at the pool. I will report back.