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.