All of us ended up swimming 7 – 8.5 hours depending on rotations. That leaves a lot of time on the boat to get to know your teammates. And get to know each other we did.
Joel Swartz: an amazingly optimistic guy through the whole swim. Always had a thumbs up or good job buddy or huge smile at the ready when you may have thought about throwing in the towel. Loved to swim under the ama and terrified the crew because of it. Funny Joel/Michelle story: He and I were sleeping at the same time. We were aligned where my head was fairly lined up with his bum. I was sleeping with my head closer to the windows because I kept getting too hot and needed the air. Turns out I needed the air for other reasons as well. I woke up and thought to myself, jeepers Michelle you are ripe. Holy cow you are going to kill your team members. I was trying to assess how I could take care of the situation when I heard a noise from the next bunk over. It wasn't me sharing my musical talents and smells, it was Joel. Not since I was a teenager has anyone farted on my head. My brother would have been so proud of Joel. I found this new revelation to be amazingly funny and of course shared it with Joel as soon as he woke up. His talents earned him the fond title of Toots McGee from another teammate. Man I still laugh until I cry when I think about this.
Randy Brown: talk about balls of steel. To jump in the water immediately after a shark sighting. To jump into the water immediately after a teammate is pulled for health reasons. To take multiple PMOW stings to the face and keep going. Unbelievable!
Linda Kaiser: Hawaii channel swimmer extraordinare. She sees it all and keeps going. After her allergic reaction, she kept thinking about ways that she could get in and swim again. We nixed the idea. So instead she sat on the trampoline hour after hour and cheered us on when she should have been recuperating. Hell she had enough Benedryl in her to knock her out for days. Nothing was going to keep her from helping the team anyway she could. She was the cheerleader who got our story told by the local press. Dogged determination in this lady.
Billy Brown: kept me laughing the whole trip. Plus for a guy that gets seasick not once did he complain. He just took care of the situation and kept a brave face. I'm not sure that he ate the whole trip which for 7+ hours of swimming over 47 hours 55 minutes is amazing. He also kept sharing stories about his Swim Kauai team members and how they were doing at their meet. It is great inspiration to hear how a swimmer got their qualifying time as we all remember that feeling.
Mike Spalding: our fearless leader. Oh captain my captain I would follow you on any adventure. You took the most PMOW stings and you never complained. You gave me the strength when I had none of my own left. You never let me quit. Thank you for showing me that I could be a better swimmer than even I thought possible.
A special thank you to each of our crew members: George, Jamie, Kai, Rob, and Milton. You provided me with the voice of reason to get through some panicked moments. I loved your stories of paddling together and seeing and feeling the commradarie that you have for each other. I hope that I have friendships that endure like yours. Jamie a special thanks goes out to you for giving me a show whenever I was in the water. There was never a dull moment when I was in the water and you were at the wheel 🙂
Kim, thank you for the meals, conversation and the professional way that you handled Linda during her allergic reaction. Your calm manner kept the team calm and let us know that everything would be taken care of. Also thank you for being the unofficial photographer. I had a preview of the photos and videos and can't wait for the finished product.
Special thank you to my family for letting me arrive late to the family vacation so that I can indulge my passion for open water swimming. Your continued support of my insanity is cherished.
Any adventure, any time with you all and I'm all in! Thank you for enriching my life in so many ways.Tags: Hawaii, Kaieiewaho Channel, Oahu to Kauai