Evan over at Freshwater Swimmer has a good post on a very approachable marathon swim here in California. He suggests Anacapa Island to Port Hueneme, which is a manageable 12.4 miles or from 5.5 to 10 hours depending on how much of a fish you are. Compare that to the Catalina Island Channel Swim, which is over 20 miles. It’s similar to the difference between a half-Iron and a full Ironman.
The landing location for the swim is pretty nice. Port Hueneme sports some nice beaches and some relatively cheap hotels. It’s 6 to 7 hours drive from the Bay Area, and is about 40 minutes north of Malibu and the beaches there. The only downside is fairly persistent cloud cover and cooler waters than further south. There’s also a track record of successful swims and an organization with experienced people to help you out.
I’m not planning on doing this swim any time soon. I’d have to get in decent swimming shape. I’ve never swum more than about 3.5 miles in a day, and that was in the pool. The distance feels completely achievable, though, and I love open water. Secondarily, I can’t imagine a wetsuit working for that distance; I’d end up aborting the swim due to chafing and likely overheating. (On a side note, the disconnect between the ocean/bay swimmers and the triathletes here vis-a-vi wetsuits is hilarious!)
There’s nothing insurmountable, but I’d need training time and ocean conditioning. Next year perhaps? I’m just glad Evan decided to write about this route!