Determined. Carolyn Hollingsworth is ready for the Catalina channel. Photo courtesy Cora Veit

Whatever you’re doing this weekend it has to be more exciting than what I’ll be doing. I doubt, however, it could be as unique as what my friend Carolyn will be doing.

Mine will involve laundry. A whole weekend? You see I often deal with laundry as I write these columns, only after prolonged procrastination. With the columns, as Friday approaches, I finally buckle down. With laundry I postpone it until I’ve run out of clean clothes.

On these occasions I use so many washers and dryers that the process involves three steps. Washing and drying, folding and finally putting the laundry away, which can take days. (Don’t fall asleep, I’m almost done with this intro.)

Further trouble is when I haven’t completely put away the laundry and it’s time to wash more. Another troubling sign is when I write about doing laundry, so let’s jump to the latest challenge of Santa Monica resident, Carolyn Hollingsworth. (a.k.a. “Wonder Woman” for reasons that will become obvious.)

Carolyn is captain of a co-ed team of awesome long distance swimmers, ranging in ages from 20’s to 50’s, the Wave Chasers. While I’ll be busy doing laundry with Tide, the Wave Chasers will be dealing with a real tide as they attempt a relay crossing of the Catalina Channel. They’ll start in Avalon at 1 a.m. in absolute pitch darkness and hopefully finish in sunshine at 10 or 11 a.m. later that morning.

The whole thing should be a walk in the park. That is, if the park you walk in is completely dark and has the possibility of 4-foot swells, sharks, jellyfish and kelp beds.

The six swimmers, two kayakers, one kayak, equipment, food and emergency medical supplies will be aboard the Outrider, captained by John Pitman. They will head out from San Pedro around 10 p.m. Saturday. (Or approximately when I put in my first load of laundry.)

The Outrider will stop about 200 meters from the Catalina shoreline. At approximately 12:40 a.m., Carolyn will dive off and swim to shore. Under the watchful eyes of two officials from the Catalina Island Swim Federation, at 1 a.m. a horn will sound and Carolyn will begin the first leg of the race in complete darkness.

It’s so dark, the Wave Chasers won’t be able to see their hands in front of their faces. “It’s like being in a wet, cold, black closet where you have no idea what’s lurking beneath you,” Carolyn jokes. (Sounds like a Stephen King novel, if you ask me.)

As Carolyn and the Chasers swim, all they will have for reference will be the nearby kayak manned by Bill Kalmenson and Josh Lara who will be equipped with glow sticks.

What makes Carolyn even more heroic in my eyes is that she has battled Lupus for over a decade. So I guess cold, dark water and all the mysterious creatures lurking below is no big deal. (It would be for me!)

After one hour, the second swimmer, Chris Georges, will enter the water, high-five Carolyn, and begin his leg. (The two must touch for the transfer to be official.) Sadie Standley swims leg No. 3, Jenny Douherty No. 4, Noah Witlin No. 5 and Tara Shima No. 6.

If all goes well, Carolyn estimates each team member will swim twice in the 21-mile trek. During the crossing, Carolyn looks forward to encountering seals, dolphins and maybe even a whale. As for sharks, she jokes again, “I’m going on the assumption they’re vegetarians.”

As the last swimmer nears land, he or she can be joined in the water by the rest of the Chasers but they must remain behind the lead swimmer. On the sand the group will celebrate the culmination of months of rigorous training. (As I celebrate finally putting away my clean laundry.)

For 2016, Carolyn is already signed up for the Mount Everest of swimming, the English Channel. (Actually, four times as many have climbed Everest as have crossed the Channel.)

Everyone says Carolyn has her hands full battling Lupus, and she does. But given her fearless determination, it just might be the other way around.

Photo courtesy Cora Veit

Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and jnsmdp@aol.com.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.