What are the 3 hardest established open-water swims (in your opinion)

gregocgregoc Charter Member
edited January 2016 in General Discussion

As an aside to the whole MIMS TC discussion @evmo raises a great disscussion point for this forum. In your opinion, what are the top three hardest open-water swims? Give some reasoning (i.e. long, cold, hot, currents, sea life, location, etc....) don't just list them.



  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member

    One should be the Farallons - SF swim. Sea life, cold, currents and besides, I just wet my pants in fear every time I think about it.



    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    edited January 2016

    North Channel:
    Cold, jellies.


    ~ Addendum:
    I just coincidentally read somebody post this about North Channel,

    "in North Channel some times seagulls bombing the bottom of the swimmer all the way along"


  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member
    edited January 2016

    3 way EC. Cold, jellies, currents, shipping traffic, salinity

    Farallons to Golden Gate: Cold, sharks

    Cuba to Florida : water temperature, marine life

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    False Bay.... Big fish and short window, restricted to daylight hours.


    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • gregocgregoc Charter Member

    ZoeSadler said:

    Cuba to Florida : water temperature, marine life

    @ZoeSadler, let's just stick to established swims.

  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member

    I wondered how long that would take!

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited January 2016

    3 way EC. Cold, jellies, currents, shipping traffic, salinity

    On the one hand, a triple EC is an awesome achievement and pretty much an automatic qualifier for "hall of fame" status in our sport.

    On the other, I feel like if a single crossing doesn't make the cut, nor should it by virtue of doing it three times in a row. You can make any swim "harder" by doing it multiple times in a row.

    Mile-for-mile, I'd have to think the Strait of Juan de Fuca would be up there. Cold, big currents, dicey conditions, andrewmalinaks...

  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    edited January 2016

    The three toughest I've been in:

    Atlantic City (37K)
    Tampa Bay (2001 reverse course against the tide)
    Lac St Jean (32K. Really cold water and bad weather in 1999)
    Honorable Mention: Any swim where the water is over 74 degrees.

  • gregocgregoc Charter Member

    swimmer25k said:

    Atlantic City (37K)

    I wish someone would restart the AC swim.

  • JenAJenA Charter Member

    Lake Ontario -- 52km, and the water can get progressively colder (dropping from mid-70s to 50 or below) as you get closer to the end.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited February 2016

    The California Channel Islands offer a variety of interesting swim challenges. The SBCSA sanctions 7 of the islands, and the other (Catalina) is sanctioned by CCSF.

    Our longest island/mainland channel swim is from San Nicolas Island (61-70 miles, depending on start/finish locations). It's never been done solo and will be a huge deal when someone finally does it.

    70 miles is perhaps out of reach for most swimmers. So on a mile-for-mile basis, the one California Channel Island swim I'll nominate for this thread is between San Miguel Island and Pt Conception. This is a 26-mile swim -- still a big one, but not unfathomable for a successful one-way Catalina or EC swimmer.

    As the furthest north of the Channel Islands, the waters between San Miguel and the mainland are subject to the coldest water, stiffest winds, and strongest currents in the Channel Islands region. Also some elephant seal colonies, for those who are into that kind of thing.

    It's been done only once, by Penny Palfrey in 2008.

    I'd love to see it done again.

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