Linda Kaiser of Honolulu, Hawaii will be honored in the Class of 2018 induction ceremony and gala of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame on March 31st at the De Vere Beaumont Estate in Old Windsor, England.
Kaiser is one of the world’s most prolific warm-water channel swimmers who has probably encountered more sharks during her channel swims in Hawaii than anyone else in the world.
It was during her 1990 Pailolo Channel swim from Maui to Molokai when she noticed a dark shape in the water beneath her. She said the shape was “no larger than a fist at first, but was growing quickly and racing straight [up to the surface] All of sudden I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a shark.’ He just kept coming straight up, and I said to myself, ‘Ooh, this may not be good.'”
But after the 12-foot shark circled her a few times, the shark lost interest.
Typically, that kind of scare did not slow the Honor Administrator down as she ultimately crossed the following channels in Hawaii over the course of her career:
Hawaiian Channel #1: 8.8-mile (14.1 km) Auau Channel (Lanai to Maui) in 1989 in 5 hours 11 minutes
Hawaiian Channel #2: 8.4-mile (13.5 km) Pailolo Channel (Maui to Molokai) in 1990 in 4 hours 47 minutes [first woman]
Hawaiian Channel #3: 9.3-mile (14.9 km) Kalohi Channel (Molokai to Lanai) in 1991 in 4 hours 30 minutes
Hawaiian Channel #4: 7-mile (11.2 km) Alalakeiki Channel (Maui to Kahoolawe) in 2001 in 3 hours 30 minutes [first woman/unprecedented direction]
Hawaiian Channel #5: 17-mile (27.3 km) Kaulakahi Channel (Kauai to Niihau) in 2003 in 10 hours 45 minutes [first person/first woman]
Hawaiian Channel #6: 17-mile (27.3 km) Kealaikahiki Channel (Kahoolawe to Lanai) in 2005 in 11 hours 53 minutes [first person/first woman]
Hawaiian Channel #7: 26-mile (42 km) Kaiwi Channel (Molokai Molokai to Oahu) in 2007 in 15 hours 0 minutes
Hawaiian Channel #8: 30-mile (48.2 km) Alenuihaha Channel (Hawaii to Maui) in 2009 in 16 hours 10 minutes
Hawaiian Channel #9: 72-mile (115.8 km) Kaieiewaho Channel six-person relay (Oahu to Kauai) in 2010 in 47 hours 55 minutes
Kaiser recalled her career of crossings, “The most difficult channel was swimming from Kahoolawe to Lanai across the Kealaikahiki Channel. We had probably five different weather and current changes. ]Our escort pilot] had conveniently not told us how far it was. We thought it was around 12 miles, but it was 17 miles; just a long slog.
The most fun crossing was from Maui to Kahoolawe across the Alalakeiki Channel. Even though the swells were 20-30 feet (6-9 meters) high, we literally bodysurfed those swells. It is a 7-mile swim and the swells were with us. The hardest part was getting in our escort boat at the end because it was so rough.
The most beautiful water was between Kauai and Niihau across the Kaulakahi Channel where we were helped by visiting dolphins along the way.
Mentally, the toughest crossing was from the Big Island of Hawaii to Maui across the Alenuihaha Channel. We did it after Mike Spalding got bit [by a cookiecutter shark]. I had lots of thoughts throughout that swim – and there were lots of sharks.
I don’t think any of the channel crossing were easy. Each crossing had its own challenges, whether they were physical or mental.”
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