Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

One of the not always appreciated differences between the English Channel in Europe and the Catalina Channel in California is the support generated by the local communities.

While hundreds of locals and near-locals have either attempted or completed an English Channel solo swim or participated in a relay, the number of local residents near the Catalina Channel is much, much fewer.

Of course, a few renowned locals like Lynne Cox have plied the waters between Santa Catalina Island and the California mainland since the 1970s, but Swim Long Beach is trying to change those participation levels.

We see Catalina Island everyday on our way to workout at Belmont Plaza or on our way to work,” explains coach Hank Wise. “The Catalina Channel is our backyard. We swim in the ocean, we surf here. We know these waters. And we are going to do more Catalina Channel crossings.”

The Swim Long Beach Catalina Relay, coached by Wise with paddlers Mike Alger, Adrian Straight and Kazu Miyahara under the direction of Captain John Pittman, observer Neil van der Byl and assistant observer Andrew Wortman included Samantha Sears, Doug Garland, Wil Diaz, Peter Knapp, Michael Kirkpatrick, and Katie Rowe having serious fun across the Catalina Channel on Saturday night.

For 9 hours and 35 minutes, a big south swell kept us rocking all night as we spent most of the night swimming against the current,” reported Garland with a big smile.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association