6.30.2012

Goody's Catalina Swim


I am not even sure where to begin to explain what an incredibly inspiring and heartbreaking experience being a member of Goody's Catalina swim was.  It was an experience that I will always remember and look back on as being one of the most amazing endurance accomplishments I have ever seen.


We boarded the Outrider at about 6:30pm on Monday evening.  We met the other members of the crew and got our gear loaded onto the boat and picked our bunks.  The all-star crew included Rob, Alli, Lynn, Marcia, Doug, Patricia, Goody 3 (Goody's dad), Gords and myself.  We had a meeting with Lynn Kubasek, who was the official observer for the swim.  She went over the rules while we waited for Neil, Goody's paddler, to arrive.  After Neil got his gear loaded up, Goody gave us some final instructions and some awesome shirts he had made for the occasion.  We had some instructions from one of the captains (mostly about not throwing up inside the boat and how to use the toilets) and then headed off to Catalina Island.

I knew I was going to get seasick, I just didn't know how bad.  Over the next several hours I threw up the entire contents of my stomach.  As if that wasn't enough, my body insisted on trying to throw up even though there was nothing left.  I had taken two Dramamine pills, but as far as I could tell, they did absolutely nothing to help with the motion sickness.


As we approached the island, Goody started getting ready to go.  He hopped in the water and swam to the island.  After clearing the water, he raised his hands in the air to signal he was ready and stepped back into the water to start what would become a very long swim.

Once he started, there wasn't a whole lot for me to do other than try to keep from throwing up and getting some sleep between being sick.  I found that if I closed my eyes and laid on my bunk on my side, that I could kind of keep it under control...for a little while.


Goody's team was really efficient at getting his feeds ready.  I was extremely impressed with Lynn and Alli, the official observers for keeping such a detailed log of what was going on.  The log included information on when he stopped to feed, what he ate, how long the feed lasted, stroke rate, water temperature, conditions, etc.  It was very obvious that these people knew exactly what they were doing and I was grateful to have them aboard taking care of my friend.

Neil was an absolute wizard in his kayak.  It was amazing to see what control he had, even in rough conditions.  On top of that, he was always encouraging Goody as he swam and kept on top of feedings, medication, checking for hypothermia, etc.  If you ever decide to take on the Catalina Channel, this is the guy you want in the water with you.

Gords coming back aboard after swimming for a hour with Goody.

Goody and Rob in the channel.
Between sleeping and throwing up, I would come up to the deck to check on his progress and encourage him at feeds.  When the sun started coming out, I was finally able to start warming up.  Gords jumped in and swam with him for an hour.  I could tell that Goody was slowing down because Gords had to slow way down and wait for Goody to catch up every once in a while.  Rob got in next and swam for an hour.  Right before I got in, we saw a huge sea lion pop up about five feet behind Goody.  I have been in the water with large animals in San Francisco and San Diego and it didn't worry me too much.  I was only in the water for about 25 minutes.  I had been cold all through the night and the water was about 60 degrees when I got in.  It was awesome to be in the water with Goody for a VERY small portion of his swim.  The water was really clear, but I didn't see any sea life at all while I was swimming.  After my short swim, I got out and started shaking a little so I took a hot shower.

About this time I was feeling better and was finally able to eat a few snacks that were lying around and drink some Gatorade.  We all watched as Goody's pace slowed down.  He was still making forward progress, but at a much slower pace than he started out at.  He mentioned at a few of his feeds that he was cramping and the crew tried to get him more potassium in his feeds.

There came a point where the crew had to take an honest look at his possibilities of finishing the swim.  At the pace he was going, it would have taken about 9 more hours to finish.  The tides were simply working against him and were slowing him down too much to keep going.  I could tell that it was really crushing news when we told him at his next feed how far he had to go and how long it would take.  This is the point when most people would have quit, but not Goody!  He kept plugging away and we tried to encourage him to pick up his pace (which he did for a while).

Eventually Lynn, the captain, and the crew decided it was time to pull the plug.  I didn't thing that I would be so emotional, but I started crying when he got out of the water and sat on the platform on the back of the boat.  I knew how much effort he had put into training and how hard he had tried over the 15 plus hours of swimming.  He told us that the though never crossed his mind, during training or during the swim, that he wasn't going to finish.

Goody and his dad, Goody, after being pulled from the water.
I know Goody was disappointed that he didn't make it all the way, but a 15 hour ocean swim in water temperatures that ranged from upper 50's to low 60's combined with swimming through the night and getting stung by jellyfish is an EXTREMELY impressive accomplishment that he should be very proud of.  Even the veterans on board could not believe what he had done and that he had not just given up.  Goody is a great friend and has been an inspiration and support to me since we first met.  I am incredibly proud of him for his accomplishment and for the influence he has on the open water community in Utah.  Way to go buddy!

You can read Goody's own account of his swim on his blog here.

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