Harbor and 5th – Painted by Julie Bender
In 1927 the owner of Catalina Island, William Wrigley, was intrigued with the fame a swimmer received when he swam the English Channel. Wrigley decided to offer a purse of $40,000 to anyone who finished first in a race across the Catalina Channel. Ever since then, swimmers from all over the world began coming to San Pedro to achieve the goal of swimming the Channel.
This summer (2015) there will be at least 50 attempts at the crossing. Crossings involve the swimmer with her crew, 2 observers from the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, and the captain and crew of a navigation vessel. To avoid the typically blustery afternoon winds, they depart in the evening from a dock at 22nd Street Landing. They arrive at Catalina around 11PM. The swimmer jumps into the water to swim to shore so the official watch can start. The swim is between 20 and 26 miles depending on the start and end points.
Wrigley’s race was in January, from Avalon to Point Vicente, a distance of 22 miles. The temperature of the water in January is normally between 51 and 56 degrees. That is one mile longer than the English Channel and approximately the same temperature. Today the normal swim is from Doctors Cove to the Terranea Resort, about 20 miles, and is swum in the summer months when the water is traditionally a warmer 68 to 73 degrees. The average time is 13 hours.
I know about this community of ocean swimmers because one of them is my daughter, Monica. She swam in 2012 at the age of 17. I believe she is the only swimmer from San Pedro so far.