Update: On Wednesday afternoon, 18 hours into Simon's swim, and just four miles from the Farallons, the pilot of Simon's support boat ordered him to abandon his attempt due to the presence of a Great White Shark. Kim, while "disappointed for the Aussie," says she still plans to go ahead with her attempt.
The crossing of the English Channel is, without question, the most famous long-distance swim in the world.
But is it the hardest?
To date, there have been close to 3,000 successful crossings of the Channel. In contrast, the epic swims Simon Dominguez and Kim Chambers have planned, will be the very firsts of their kind.
Australia native and Bay Area resident Dominguez is planning an attempt, likely to start Tuesday evening around midnight, at being the first person ever to complete the roughly 30 mile swim from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands on his own.
Only four solo swimmers have previously completed the feat of swimming from the Farallons, a cluster of islands 30 miles west of the coast, to the Golden Gate. But if successful, Dominguez will be the first to do the swim in the other direction, starting his swim at the bridge.
Chambers, a native of New Zealand who has lived in the Bay Area for 20 years, is planning to attempt her swim sometime between August 8-10. If successful, she would be the first woman to ever complete the swim in either direction.
“I’m drawn to adventure. I’m drawn to the unknown and that’s tremendously alluring and thrilling for me,” Chambers says.
“I just see this as something out there that needs to be done,” Dominguez adds.
“We might shiver a lot, might have to drink a lot of beer when we get out of the water, but it's just things you have to do,” he says.
Dominguez fell into the sport somewhat by chance back in 2010 while back home in Australia. Having been a competitive swimmer growing up, he thought that three weeks of training would be enough to successfully complete his first seven mile marathon swim. It turned out to be much more difficult than he ever imagined.
“I was in a lot of pain,” he said. “I couldn’t move but I was totally hooked.”
Also getting into the sport somewhat unexpectedly was his training partner, Chambers.
Growing up, Chambers was a competitive ballerina. In 2007 a horrific leg accident almost lead to her leg being amputated. She entered the pool as part of her rehabilitation and only took a dip in the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay on a dare from friends.
She, too, was hooked.
“I got in and I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m out here. I can’t believe I’m doing this.’”
Chambers has since gone on to be one of the most accomplished marathon swimmers in the world. She has completed the “Oceans Seven,” the most challenging long distance swims in the world, akin to mountaineering’s “Seven Summits.”
With a successful swim to the Farallons, they might have to change the name to the “Oceans Eight.”
“I’m just, I guess a little bit addicted to see how far I can go,” Chambers said.
Dominguez and Chamers say there is a natural rivalry between them as a result of their Aussie and Kiwi roots, but once in the water, they are all business.
“It’s a partnership. We’re not competing with each other, we’re just really competing with ourselves,” Chambers said.
Noting that for him, the long swims are 80 percent physical and 15 to 20 percent mental, Simon said that some days require a little bit of extra motivation. As members of the Night Train Swimmers, they have had the opportunity to do swims that benefit various charities.
These swims are no exception.
“We’re doing it to make a difference and the fact that we can do something that we love and at the same time inspire people to contribute to these charities is very special.”
To follow Dominguez’s swim, you track his escort boat’s GPS here.