Gordon's Catalina Swim
The last couple days have been a whirlwind of driving, almost puking, sleeping and swimming.
I drove down to Long Beach with Jim and Connie on Tuesday morning. We left just before 6am and drove pretty much straight to the marina where we would board the Outrider, the boat that would be piloting Gordon across the channel.
After arriving, we met up with Sue and Goody for a quick dinner. They noticed that I was acting strange and I blame the motion sickness patch I had put on in the car on the way down. It made me feel a little drowsy and gave me a dry mouth.
After we ate, we all drove over to the marina and met up with Gordon and his family. He had made each of us a cool shirt to commemorate the swim. The two observers and paddler showed up not long after we got there and we all headed down to load up the boat.
We had to wait for a while for the crew to show up and we used that time to go over the official rules as well as Gordon's detailed plan for his swim and what he expected each of us to do. Once the crew showed up, we were off.
I didn't feel nearly as sick as last year when we were there for Goody's swim. The patch was definitely working. I took the opportunity to go below deck and sleep on the way over. When we were about 30 minutes away, Gordon started getting ready to swim. He jumped off the boat with no hesitation and swam to shore. After signaling his start, he was off. I stayed up for the first couple of feeds and then went back to sleep.
I got up after a while and Sue and I took over feeds. She prepared them and I tossed them in. Gordon looked strong and smooth in the water. His stroke rate averaged between about 66 and 69.
When it got light (it never really got sunny), Jacob hopped in the kayak to give Tom a break. Sue seemed eager to get in the water and got her suit on. She swam for 30 minutes with Gordon and loved it. It looked like she was smiling while she was swimming.
After another feed cycle, I jumped in the water to swim for 30 minutes. The water felt cool and I was tempted to just start swimming fast. I had to be careful not to get ahead of Gords and get him in trouble with the observers. The water was amazing. It looks deceptively gray/black when looking down from the boat. Once you get in the water it's dark blue in color and you can see forever. It was fun to see Gordon and the boat at one side, the kayak on the other, and small sea creatures below me. Once my time was up, I swam back to the boat and climbed in.
Gords seemed to be in good spirits until he got a leg cramp with about 2 nautical miles to go. He asked us not to tell him how far he had gone except for one "treat" after he was more than halfway. We though that letting him know how close he was would help him get through the cramp and pick it up to the end.
At one point we saw a big pod of dolphins. They got pretty close to us and it was fun to watch them gliding and jumping through the water. We tried to get Gordon's attention so he could see them, but he was focused on swimming.
Tom, the paddler, came aboard as we got closer. They though they had secured his kayak to the back of the boat, but we noticed it was drifting away behind us. The captain would not leave Gordon and told him that he would have to swim back to the kayak before finishing. I can't imagine what a crushing blow that must have been. Luckily, Goody stepped up and offered to swim back and get it, leaving Gordon to keep heading to shore with the boat. We were all watching Goody and he caught up to the kayak, which was drifting further and further away. Once he climbed aboard, he paddled back and staying on the water with Gordon to the next feed.
We let Gordon know when he had about 30 minutes left and Goody, Sue, Jacob and I got changed so that we could swim in to shore with him. With only a couple hundred yards to shore, we all jumped in and swam in behind him. Gords pulled himself out on to shore and cleared the water. He beat his goal time of 12 hours by 10 minutes! Gordon's kids and parents were there on shore to see him finish. Joelle was also there to see him. After a quick celebration and some photos, we all got back into the water and swam to the boat. Goody had arranged to have a plateful of chicken nuggets waiting for Gordon when he got back.
After getting back to shore, Gordon took us all out for lunch. I had a great time being part of a pretty awesome support crew and seeing my friend make his goal. It was really cool to see how many people were following him online and tracking his progress. He has inspired many people and I am sure he will continue to inspire more.
You can read Gordon's own account here and see the official observers log here.