Five-Person Group Successfully Crosses Kaulakahi Channel


Five swimmers from Ala Moana Beach Swim Club have successfully completed a swim across the Kaulakahi Channel from the Hawaiian islands of Kauai to Niihau.

The team, composed of Bill Goding, Lectie Altman, Marcus Guttmann, Ryan Leong, and Stefan Reinke finished the 27.3 km swim in 11 hours, 38 minutes despite strong currents and 3-4 foot waves. The group did the swim together, not as a relay.

The group also had several encounters with wildlife, including stinging no-see-ums for the first two hours, man of war clusters, pods of dolphins, a school of 40 tuna boiling on the surface, multiple schools of opelu, dive bombing booby birds, and an 8’, fully mature, Silky shark.

According to Reninke, the president of the Waikiki Roughwater Swim Committee, the shark, nicknamed Calvin, followed the group for approximately 8 hours of the crossing. “The last time I saw Calvin, Marcus and I were about 25 meters behind the group. Marcus tapped my leg, stopped and said, ‘I don’t know if you care, but Calvin is swimming next to us.’ I looked around and saw him peacefully swimming parallel to us about 5-10 feet below and said, ‘No.’ Calvin became part of the pod and, as unbelievable as it may sound, we were comfortable with him. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.”

With the swim, the team joins a small group of swimmers who have crossed the channel, as it has only been done 17 times. 3 of those swims were done by Bill Goding, who completed this most recent swim at 67 years old.


Calvin the Silky Shark. Via Ryan Leong, used with permission


From Left to Right: Marcus Guttmann, Bill Goding, Lectie Altman, Stefan Reinke. Via Bonnie Leong, used with permission


The swimmers enjoying a water break during the swim. Via Bonnie Leong, used with permission


Underwater shot of the swimmers. Via Colin Cross, used with permission

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3 years ago

What an amazing swim. Having done the ‘au ‘au channel (9 miles/5ish hours) a couple of times as a youngster, being in the salt water for that long is a extremely taxing feat, both physically and mentally. To imagine a journey lasting twice that long is hard to grasp; it’ll truly be something these folks remember forever. Bravo Zulu, and enjoy eating and drinking something other than Gatorade and cliff bars!

Bill Goding
Reply to  Ragnar
3 years ago

Yes, we all swam the channel solo (not a relay as stated above). Additionally, our team president’s last name is Reinke (not Reninke as spelled in the article). Thank you.

Karlyn Pipes
3 years ago

The title of this article is incorrect. They swam together but it was NOT a relay. Each person completed the full channel swim distance. What an amazing group of open water swimmers!

Last edited 3 years ago by Karlyn Pipes
Lectie Altman
Reply to  Karlyn Pipes
3 years ago

Thanks Karlyn. We had a blast!

Jerry Foley
3 years ago

Lectie you are amazing and my inspiration. Coach Jerry

Lectie Altman
Reply to  Jerry Foley
3 years ago

Thanks Jerry!!! Hope you’re doing well!!!

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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