A team of five British swimmers (John Gunn, Ali Wilde, Ed Morgan, Joel Richards and Mary Stokes) have signed up to tackle one of the world’s most notorious ocean swims: the 30-mile crossing from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a swim that’s described as being like the English Channel – only colder, rougher and with sharks. It’s also longer and has only been accomplished a handful of times.
The Farallon Islands are an eerie and forgotten rocky outpost off mainland San Francisco that were previously used as a nuclear dumping site in the 1950s and 1960s. They sit in the heart of the Red Triangle – a notorious hunting ground for great white sharks that is responsible for 11% of global shark attacks.
The first recorded crossing took place in August 1967 when Lt Colonel Stuart Evans landed by Bolinas after nearly 14 hours in the water. Ted Erikson completed the swim a month later but then it wasn’t until 2014 that Craig Lenning became the third successful swimmer, followed four months later by Joe Locke. There are incomplete records of a relay race from 1969 and the Night Train Swimmers sent two teams across in 2011, and that’s it.
The relay swim will be officially observed and supported by the Farallon Islands Swimming Federation and dictated by traditional open water rules with the exception that neoprene hats are allowed on this crossing (on the basis that the first two successful swimmers wore them).
The swimmers are anticipating water temperatures of between 8 and 10 degrees Celsius and possible swells up to 5 metres high. Each swimmer will be required to spend one hour in the water at a time, rotating in order until the swim is complete.
If they complete the swim they will be the first British team to do so, but their main motivation is to raise funds and awareness for RNLI, a charity that provides a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coastline.
The team is sponsored by Swimzi, which “exists to provide the world of aquatic sports with iconic, innovative leisurewear.”
See also: http://www.h2openmagazine.com/news/craig-lenning-becomes-third-farallon-islands-mainland-california-solo-swimmer/
The video below comes from a team training day with the RNLI