The official state gem is black coral. The color of its waters varies between a light marine green to a deep royal blue. The power of the ocean is majestic to see with its massive ocean swells and spectacular surf. Open water events, from surfing to swimming, are held there nearly every weekend of the year.

It is Hawaii, an isolated group of islands over 5 hours by airplane from its nearest state in America. It is a magical oceanic oasis whose terra firma veneer is a tropical wonderland surrounded by an aqueous framework of blues and greens. Its brand conjures up everything from hula to coconuts, from outriggers to volcanoes, from surfing to luaus. Its language is at once colorful and poetic with one of the most beautiful words on the planet – aloha.

It is a state with innumerable beaches, coves, and channels so inviting to swim. Undoubtedly, no single human in history has swum more throughout the Aloha State than channel swimmers Linda Kaiser and Mike Spalding.

Kaiser and Spalding are the only individuals to have swum all nine major channels in Hawaii: 8 as solo swimmers and 1 as relay members.

The fearless duo have seen it all during their nine channel crossings throughout the state: they have encountered more sharks than most marine biologists, endured hundreds of jellyfish and Portuguese man o war wounds, undulated between massive ocean swells and towering waves, weathered countless hours of a relentless tropical sun and fierce winds, been mesmorized by star-filled nights in the middle of the largest ocean in the world, and swum through tropical reefs.

Their channel swimming resume is more than impressive: it is prolific, unique and unprecedented in Hawaii:

1. 26-mile Kaiwi Channel, meaning “the bone”, between Moloka’i and O’ahu
2. 8.8-mile Au’au Channel, meaning “bathe”, between Maui and Lāna’i
3. 9.3-mile Kalohi Channel, meaning “the slowness”, between Lāna’i and Moloka’i
4. 7-mile Alalākeiki Channel, meaning “child’s wail” between Maui and Kaho’olawe
5. 8.4-mile Pailolo Channel, meaning “pai (lift), oloolo (shifting), between Maui and Moloka’i
6. 17-mile Kaulakahi Channel, meaning “the single flame” between the islands of Kaua’i and Ni’ihau
7. 17-mile Kealaikahiki Channel, meaning “the way to foreign lands”, between Kaho’olawe and Lāna’i
8. 32-mile Alenuihāhā Channel, meaning “great billows smashing”, between Hawai’i and Maui
9. 72-mile Ka’ie’iewaho (Kaua’i) Channel, meaning “outer ka’ie’ie” named after a vine between O’ahu and Kaua’i) with a 6-person relay

The channels that link the Hawaiian Islands together are also poetically referred to as the Eight Seas (Nā Kai ‘Ewalu). Kaiser and Spalding: 2 who have done 8. The only 2. So far.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association