Bay Area swimmer attempts 27-mile ocean route from SF to Half Moon Bay


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Early Wednesday morning, Catherine Breed will jump into the waves near the mouth of San Francisco Bay and attempt to swim 27 miles south to Half Moon Bay across the frigid Pacific, a route that no open water swimmer has done before.

She predicts the trip will require 12 to 15 hours in the water to battle strong currents, navigate boat traffic, navigate surface chop and, she hopes, avoid encounters with white sharks.

“I have no idea if it’s possible, so we’ll find out tomorrow,” Breed said Tuesday morning.

Breed, who lives in Mill Valley, has the best chance of success of anyone, say Bay Area Swimmers. Swimmers have overlapped parts of Breed’s route, but no one has connected SF to Half Moon Bay in one go like this.

“She’s probably the most gifted open water swimmer in the Bay Area right now, in terms of stamina and speed,” said David Holscher, an established open water swimmer who will accompany Breed in a support boat during her swim.

The 29-year-old competitive swimmer grew up in Pleasanton and spent her childhood weekends sailing with her parents in the bay. After college at UC Berkeley, which she said she attended on a full sports scholarship, Breed discovered the Dolphin Club, a hub of the bay’s water sports community, and transitioned into open water swimming. free.

She “quickly fell in love with it,” she said, and began marking elite milestones in the sport.

In 2017, she set the record for a 21-mile crossing of Lake Tahoe with a time of 8 hours and 56 minutes. In 2018, she swam the English Channel, an iconic 21-mile feat that has been dubbed “the Mount Everest of swimming”. Then she managed a notoriously difficult crossing of the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland, widely considered “the ultimate in difficult canal swimming”, according to OpenWaterPedia, the sports columnist.

“For me, those long swims have been a journey of, am I capable? How tough am I? Is it possible?” Race said.

His attire for Wednesday’s swim is limited to a one-piece suit, goggles, cap and earplugs. She’ll take a break every half hour to take a few sips of a calorie shake from a thermos thrown to her on a leash from the support boat.

In addition to the support boat, Breed will be accompanied by a kayaker who will pace her and look for dorsal fins crossing the surface. Although shark attacks aren’t common, Bay Area open-water swimmers have had all sorts of encounters with the creatures, including being run over and surrounded.

“It’s the ocean, they’re out there,” Breed said.

As a precaution, she uses Shark Shield devices that emit electronic fields underwater to deter white sharks.

If successful on Wednesday, Breed will get out of the water at Surfer’s Beach in El Granada, a landing that will take her through the waters of Mavericks, the big-wave surfing area off Pillar Point. She says she uses long strokes to train for the rigors of big wave surfing, one of her next goals as a water woman.

Gregory Thomas is the Chronicle’s Lifestyle and Outdoors Editor. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @GregRThomas

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