Catalina training question

KswimsKswims San Diego, CAMember
edited April 2022 in General Discussion

Hi all! I'm Kelley from San Diego. I am attempting Catalina on 7/26 and have a few quick questions about training for those who have completed the swim. Just want to make sure my training plan is on par with others who have been successful :)
1. What was your longest training swim? (distance/time)
2. What was your longest night training swim?
3. What is the most important piece of advice you can offer to someone attempting this swim?

Thanks so much all for your insight!




  • abbygirlroseabbygirlrose Los Angeles and Palo Alto, CASenior Member

    Exciting! I think that was almost my exact date in 2016!

    1. I think it was 6 hours because I thought the swim would take me a max of 12 hours and I wanted to make sure I did at least half the time-in-water. (My swim ended up being 11hr11min). For swims I have done since then, I have tried to hit more like 65-75% of time-in-water.

    2. I don't think I did a single true "night" swim but instead several very early morning dark swims. I just made sure to do several swims starting at around 4am to get some dark time. IMO (others may have other thoughts) swimming in the dark some is important, but unless you get out with an escort boat it is tough to approximate what being out in the channel in the dark feels like. I would recommend at least one dark swim next to a kayak to practice because that can be tricky. For me, keeping perspective of where the front/back/middle of the kayak is oriented in the dark is challenging and we discovered that putting 2 different colored glowsticks at the front and back and something lit up on the kayakers head helped with this.

    3. The most important advice that was given to me is: "Don't forget to stop in the middle of the channel, roll onto your back, and enjoy the moon and stars." On a more practical note, I would say trust your training and plan and don't let what anyone else did or is doing make you question your preparedness once you have put in the work.

  • Kswims - I'm attempting my first Catalina on 7.18 this year just before you and happy to share notes if its helpful. Most of my training will be in the pool, so I'm focused on quality over distance for that. I am planning at least one long (~6-7 hr.) night swim in April/May with as many early morning dark swims as I can as well.

    Thanks for the insight abbygirlrose! I will keep number 3 in mind as well.

  • jendutjendut Charter Member

    this is all terrific advice from @abbygirlrose - I haven't done Catalina but have done many night swims- it is definitely worth rehearsing those, as you might find that you can not tolerate certain things which seem ok in the light of day! NO headlamps, red light sticks, or blinking lights for me :# but they work perfectly well for others and I would not have known if I hadn't tried it

  • KswimsKswims San Diego, CAMember

    Thank you all so very much!!!! Truly appreciate your insight @abbygirlrose . @TheLordHumungus let me know if you find anything helpful during your training and best wishes to you! We got this.

    I’m planning on doing an 8 hr swim starting very early morning at the end of June; and also the around Coronado swim a week and a half before Catalina starting very early in the morning. I do have a decent amount of experience swimming in the dark next to kayakers (and have done Anacapa solo and Catalina relay and Santa Cruz Island to Oxnard relay). I just haven’t swam in the dark for more than 2.5 hrs at once though so I’m like … how will I triple that 🤣🤣

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    @Kswims I hadn't swum in the dark for more than an hour at a time on relays, before I did Catalina. Even my EC solo started at 4.20am, so I only had an hour or so of darkness for that.Catalina was just the same but for longer. You get used to it. If you were fine with 2.5 hours, you'll be fine overnight. You have the company of your kayaker, which makes an enormous difference. Best of luck.

  • KswimsKswims San Diego, CAMember

    @KatieBun thank you so much for the encouragement and confidence! I appreciate it :)
    I will have my kayakers to keep me company

  • LakeBaggerLakeBagger Central OregonSenior Member
    1. What was your longest training swim? (distance/time)

    21 miles/10.5 hours about a month before (don’t worry, not actually necessary, 6 hours/12 ish miles works fine for most people)

    1. What was your longest night training swim?

    A couple hours, maybe? I was worried about swimming at night, but my swim was on a full moon and I found the LA sky much brighter than the Oregon mountain sky. It was very pleasant and peaceful and not scary like it was during my practices in the very dark lake, where visibility was super limited.

    1. What is the most important piece of advice you can offer to someone attempting this swim?

    I really agree with Abby on not letting anyone else’s training cause you to question your own preparedness. Try your best to focus on enjoyment and appreciation, and feeling comfortable while swimming. Practice that on every training swim so it’ll come naturally if/when you’re nervous.

    Have a great swim, keep us posted, will be sending you well-wishes!!

  • swimnicswimnic New Member

    Oh, exciting! I'm booked to do Catalina on 30.8.22. And then heading to San Fran for some iconic swims as well as a chillaxed time swimming with a friend in Oregan after! Can't wait.
    I won't have a kayak, but have swum next to a boat in the dark before - however, it was on flat water. Not sure how it will go if it's lumpy. Time will tell I guess! I'm mostly concerned about the temp, but hoping it's "warmish".
    I've done a 9hr 45min swim this year, and will have a six hour swim in a month, and and another about 5 weeks prior - but haven't got anything longer scheduled. Hoping it's enough! Mostly training in a hot 25m pool, and concentrating on technique and HIIT type training - but lots of it.

  • Night swim training is a definite - it’s one of the most peaceful serene experiences…..Quite opposite what most ppl would think. Prep for the cool water - ya’ll that are acclimated to it are better off. 60 degree H2O off the coast is not uncommon-that’s something you have to train for. Get an ice tub :)

  • How's the training going KSwims? I swam 4 hours open water last Saturday at 71F - pretty warm but that's as cold as I'm going to get this time of year. Hoping to start some dark swim as soon as next weekend....

  • EricDurbanEricDurban United StatesNew Member

    Longest training swim - 16 miles/8+ hours, based on the recommendation to do at least one training swim of 75% of the channel we were swimming. Might have been able to do less without negative impact, but it certainly boosted my confidence.

    Longest night training swim - no more than two hours of a four hour swim from dark to dawn. Getting an experienced kayaker to accompany you is at least as important.

    Most important piece of advice I can give - All great advice above, but for me, during the swim I learned to stop thinking about the total distance remaining and just focus on making it to the next feed. 5-6 miles in, feeling sick to my stomach I was convinced I couldn't finish my tandem Catalina swim with my brother. I continued in part to support my brother, but a few hours more of swimming and refocusing on just getting to the next feed, made me start to believe I could finish it. We did finish, not real fast, but finishing was the goal.

    Good luck all of you swimmers!

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