The swimmers are a group of teenagers from the ACRH Academy of San Diego, known as “The Zombies”—unusual, yes, but they did not disappoint. The group had already completed a number of relay channel swims, including Catalina and the English Channel, This time they had their eyes on the Kaiwi Channel.
When the escort crew and I got to Molokai by boat the day before the swim, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Before we could even get the anchor down most of the Zombies who were already on Molokai jumped into the water and swam to greet us. So I jumped over too with waterproof gear in hand to get to know these Zombies.
The first real challenge was the weather – 25+ knot winds in the channel. My dad said no. The boat captain was in complete agreement. So, plan B. The swimmers would instead attempt a first-ever swim down the west coast of the island and around the southern tip – and back. While the crew went over logistics, I sat there with the Zombies chatting on the remote sands of Molokai’s western shore.
The swim started early at 4 am. The remote north west coast of Molokai is DARK.
These kids are amazing. Positive, friendly and very respectful. They were on a mission but they were also having fun. I was impressed with the teamwork. The swim started off dark and calm and finished bright and rough with the zombies getting pushed or sucked (maybe a bit of both) into the Kalohi Channel between Molokai and Lanai.
While these types of events are driven by the swimmers, they are also so much the product of the team that surrounds them – the coaches, parents, escort boat captains, kayakers and all the behind the scenes organizers.
I wanted to capture a little bit of everything (and everyone who would let me put a camera in their face). Without a team, none of these swims would be possible. On that note, this video is dedicated to the Zombies, their coaches, the parents and those completely insane people who think this type of thing is good for these kids. It is!
Zombie Team Members:
Cheryl Allcock, Head of School, coach and swimmer
Dan Simonelli, coach and swimmer
Shelly Lana, support crew
Otto Lana, support crew
Claudio Rigo de Righi, support crew
Mike Israel, support crew
Maddy Israel, swimmer
John Allcock, swimmer
Faith Irvine, swimmer
Zach Irvine, swimmer
Noah Rowan, swimmer
Wesley Metcalfe, swimmer
CJ Fontinos, swimmer
Matt Georgy, swimmer
Cooper Zak, swimmer
Diana Linney, swimmer
Greg Longnecker, Captain
Warren, First Mate
Jeff Kozlovich, lifeguard and kayaker
Evan Smith, kayaker
Colin Kozlovich, filmmaker
Aaron Begle, drone pilot
Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association