No solo marathon swim is entirely done by oneself. A crew can make or break a swim. I learned on Saturday how important that really is and was very fortunate to have an awesome crew. They deserve as much credit for my swim as I do as without them, my swim would have failed. I was having nutritional problems early on which I didn’t communicate with them that I was having trouble keeping food down so didn’t really want to eat or drink much as I was spending some effort to not throw up. I need to acknowledge the individuals who volunteered their time and energy into ensuring that I made it across the Santa Barbara Channel that day. I’m forever indebted to the following individuals who were with me in the Santa Barbara Channel during my swim:
Grace Van Der Byl, me, Carol Hayden, Cherie Coppock, Ray Kilz on Silver Strand Beach
Cherie Erdborg Coppock – Crew Chief; fellow OakStreaker. She volunteered for my crew early on and then stepped up as Crew Chief when my original selection went MIA on me. She checked in on me via email or text every so often during my training process and helped calm my nerves every chance she got. She kayaked for an hour of my swim to give Tom a break. She swam Anacapa in 2012 and was a starred in “Driven: A Marathon Swimming Documentary.”
Susie Tang – Crew Member; best friend for the last 17 years and non-swimmer. The only non-swimmer on my crew. She didn’t quite know what she was in for and took it like a champ. She’s good at following orders and also knows valuable things like coffee will make me nauseous so don’t give it to me. She didn’t mind Gracie bossing her around at all. 🙂
Ray Kilz – Crew Member; fellow OakStreaker. Always 100% positive and willing to lend a hand. Also usually up for grabbing tea (and a double shot of espresso for him like he needs it) after a swim.
Carol Hayden – Crew Member; fellow OakStreaker, and training partner. I swim with her on a nearly daily basis at Shaw’s Cove in Laguna Beach and we did longer training swims together. She swam Anacapa a week before me and we’re about the same speed so training together made sense. 🙂 Gave me a TON of advice beforehand from her lifetime of open water swimming and being crew support for others. Having her in the water with me made me feel like it was just another Shaw’s swim. Literally did not care if she was passed out on the boat for my entire swim as I just wanted her there in any way that I could get it.
Grace Van Der Byl – Crew Member; last minute addition to my crew. No introduction needed for her really in the open water community as she just won the MIMS 2014 by being the fastest to swim around Manhattan Island and also the current record holder for flying across the Catalina Channel in 7 hours and 27 minutes. Without her happening to have Gu in her bag, I have no idea what would have happened on my swim as they mixed that in with super concenetrated electrolyte mix for my feeds to speed me up. A force to be reckoned with, she took over as Crew Chief during the swim. In the dark, I could hear a woman’s voice cheering me on and knew it was her. Not sure how I knew as I had just met her in person in the dock’s parking lot but just knew it was her. One of my favorite moments on the swim was looking at the boat and seeing her literally jumping up and down while cheering.
Tom Reilly – Kayaker; friend and knows just about every kayaker in the Santa Barbara area I think. Tom helped organize kayakers for the OakStreakers for Semana Nautica 6-mile in July and paired us all up perfectly. He kayaked all except for one hour of my swim.
Peter Hayden – Official SBCSA Observer; friend, mentor, and fellow OakStreaker. First person to circumnavigate Anacapa Island and then swam to Oxnard right after. Carol alerted him that I was having a rough time getting into the game for training early on and Peter reached out to me. He was always up for giving his feedback to me. I think he and Gracie conspired to spike my feeds during my swim which I’m forever grateful for even though I’d have objected to it beforehand. One of my solid rocks that I needed every step of the way and felt like he and Carol really took me under their wings to ensure that I was successful in my training and the swim itself.
Gracie and Peter with the PED they slipped into my feeds.
There are also the people who weren’t on the boat who were part of my Land Crew that helped me prepare for this swim that I need to acknowledge. In absolutely no particular order:
Lynne Cox – legendary open water swimmer. Among her incredible accomplishments are swimming an ice mile to Antarctica and across the Bering Strait and Cape of Good Hope. I know her really through the OakStreakers as a lot of them know her and Carol Hayden senet me a friend suggestion for her on Facebook. Lynne answered all of my questions about preparing and training for this swim from what to expect to what to feed on to what I should do during the last week before my swim. Super down to earth woman and was so easy to talk to over the last several months. Inspired me that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and who cares if anyone else supports you or not.
Lynn Kubasek – fellow OakStreaker. Met Lynn at Jamie Patrick’s Swim Camp and knew her name and everyone knew her so figured that she wouldn’t ever add me as a friend on Facebook. Turns out that she’s relatively normal. 🙂 After Jamie’s Swim Camp, Jamie told me to “Swim with Lynn” so I kept in touch with her dropping into an OakStreaker session every now and then and eventually joined them on a regular basis in January. Lynn gave me the idea to swim Anacapa earlier this year in a conversation that went as simple as “Kelley you should swim Anacapa.” “Sure. How far is it?” I wouldn’t have considered Anacapa if it wasn’t for Lynn’s suggestion. That led to me joining the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association as a life member and becoming an observer for both SBCSA and the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation. I had a text from Lynn congratulating me on completing my swim by the time I got back to the boat. 🙂
Cathy Harrington – kayaker and fellow South End Rowing Club member. Cathy kayaked for almost every single one of my kayak-assisted training swims and all of my night swims. I was always surprised when she’d say “sure” to meeting me at SERC for a training swim whether it was 5 AM or 9 PM. Also she always put up with my hijinks of swimming in the dark. 😉
Brandon Hament – spiritual mentor. I met Brandon earlier this year and he quickly became someone that I trust completely. Brandon’s always been there for me when I’ve needed someone to talk to about anything and everything going on in my life. I’ve texted him many times saying I was down and needed someone to talk to and he’d respond saying to meet him in his spinning studio in X minutes. He also got me cross-training with spinning when he caught me during a weak moment (aka towards closing time at Mission Wines).
Simon Dominguez – fellow South End Rowing Club member. Simon sent an email out once to the SERC list looking for pilots for a long training swim one weekend as there were various people in his pod training for all sorts of swims from Anacapa to English Channel to Tsugaru Strait. I asked if I could join them. They never found a pilot volunteer. I did gain a friend and supporter in Simon though. He always sent me texts of encouragement which seemed to come like he had a sixth sense that I was having doubts.
Evan Morrison – fellow South End Rowing Club member. I had no idea who Evan was when I met him at Jamie’s Swim Camp last August. We were at Jamie’s in March (?) taking turns in Jamie’s endless pool with both of them giving me feedback on technique. Jamie suggested that I hook up with Evan for stroke help as he does that on the side. More often than not, I took lessons from Evan on Sunday afternoons or Monday mornings when I was back up in SF to work on my technique. What I really like about taking lessons from Evan is that unlike many swim coaches, he keeps open water swimming in mind when coaching. He was also the first person I told that I wanted to swim Catalina when during a lesson a few months ago he said “if..well WHEN you swim Catalina..”. I’m going to continue working with him and my Masters coach on my stroke and speed for months to come.
Looking forward to attempting the Catalina Channel in 2015! Crew Chief: Gracie Van Der Byl. ❤
Gracie Van Der Byl hugging me after I finished.