Gracie Van Der Byl was always fast as an age-group swimmer and collegiate star.

But now she is officially fast by all marathon swimming standards.

In fact, the fastest. This morning, the San Diego coach set a new Catalina Channel record (from Catalina to the California mainland) in 7 hours 27 minutes. She broke the record of 7 hours 43 minutes set by Karen Burton in 1994 (also coincidentally set in early October).

Her swim even came tantalizing close to Dr. Penny Dean’s overall record of 7 hours 15 minutes set all the way back in 1976.

Over the next 3 years, it is our prediction that (1) the magical 7-hour mark in the Catalina Channel will be broken by both a male and female, (2) the average time of the Catalina Channel will begin to fall significantly, (3) Sub-8 hour swims will become more numerous, especially given the increase in attention marathon swimming is receiving among the world’s elite swimmers and former collegiate swimming stars.

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