Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

When a group of open water swimmers get together – for a training session or for a channel crossing – they always seem to rise to the occasion.

Not all relays are always successful as the Night Train Swimmers have tried proven during their attempts to cross the Sea of Cortez, but the teams always seem to go beyond what they are individually capable.

Some of the greatest relays in recent history include:

1993: Sun Rice Australia (Sunrice Australia Channel Relay Team) was a pioneering six-man relay from Australia that completed the first 136 km four-way crossing of the English Channel in 43 hours 7 minutes in 1993 with Des Renford as the team’s tactician and swimmers Cyril Baldock, Michael Renford, Baden Green, Greg Stewart, Peter Tibbets and Kevin Neilsen.

1996: Mediterranean International Swimming Relay Race was a 93 km Malta-to-Sicily open water swimming (4-person) competition between Australia, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary on July 19th – 20th 1996 that started from St. Julians Bay in Malta and finished at Marina di Modica in Sicily, Italy. The Australian team won in 19 hours 11 minutes and included Melissa Cunningham, Shelley Taylor-Smith, Joe Mitchell and Grant Robinson on 20-minute legs with Chris Guesdon as their manager and tactician. Note: 1996 was the only year of a successful crossing. Both the 1995 Mediterranean International Swimming Relay Race and 1997 Mediterranean International Swimming Relay Race were held, but all the participating teams failed to finish. 1st: Australia (19:11), 2nd: Italy (19:15), 3rd: Czech Republic (20:42), 4th: Slovenia (20:46), 5th: Hungary (20:56).

2007: Sport City Mexico was a six-member relay from Mexico City that completed the second 136 km four-way crossing of the English Channel in 42 hours 11 minutes in August 2007. The members included Mariel Hawley, Jorge Urreta, Luis Pineyro, Omar Díaz González, Alejandro Moreno, and Mayalen Noriega with coach Rodolfo Aznar, Dr. Alexander Kormanovsky, escort pilot Mike Oram and co-pilot Lance Oram.

2008: Lake Cane Relay: 2 teams of 50 swimmers, each doing 2 km, who covered 100 km in 37 hours 6 minutes in Lake Cane in Orlando, Florida, USA under the leadership of Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer in December 2008.

2009: Taupo x 3 (or Lake Taupo Three-way Relay) were two separate 6-person male and female relays that swam 126 km (78.2 miles) in a three-way crossing of Lake Taupo, New Zealand between January 5th – 6th 2009. The men’s team finished in 33 hours 31 minutes 15 seconds and included Steve Junk (Australia), Mark Cockroft (New Zealand), Dougal Hunt (Australia), Chris Palfrey (Australia), and Stephen Spence (Australia) with New Zealand legend Philip Rush as the escort pilot. The women’s team finished in 33 hours 33 minutes 45 seconds and included Julie Bradshaw (England), Michelle Macy (USA), Barbara Pellick (Australia), Penny Palfrey (Australia), Lucy Roper (England), and Heather Osborn (New Zealand).

2009: The Camlough Team was a relay of 220 swimmers who swam non-stop 685.5 km (426.5 miles) in Camlough Lake in northern Ireland for 232 hours 52 minutes over 9 nights and 10 days in 2009 under the leadership of Aoife McCourt-Lynch and Pádraig Mallon.

2010: Mexican American Unity Swim was a 3-man, 3-woman relay that swam 200 km (108 nautical miles) in Lake Powell, Utah, USA on September 24th-26th 2010. The three American men and three Mexican women swam for 55 hours, 20 minutes 25 seconds and included Patty Kohlman, Edna Llorens, Nora Toledano, Captain Vito Bialla, Matthew Davie, and Phil Cutti with observer Steven Munatones.

2010: Ventura Deep Six was a 6-man relay that swam 325 km (202 miles) down the California coast from Ventura to La Jolla Cove near San Diego. The men from Ventura County Masters Swim Club included Tom Ball, Kurtis Baron, John Chung, Jim McConica, Jim Neitz and Mike Shaffer who swam for 4 days 5 hours 39.53 minutes (101 hours 39 minutes and 53 seconds) in September 16th – 20th 2010.

2012: Marina Martinique Marathon was a 6-person relay that swam 350 km in a 3.1 km loop course within Marina Martinique in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa between March 21st – 25th 2012. The team included Ralph West, Brenton Williams, JC van Wyk, Greg Tucker, Russell Tucker and Sanmarie Woithe.

2013: Night Train Swimmers was a 2-woman, 4-man relay that swam 367 km (228 miles) along the California coast from Gaviota State Park to a small beach near the San Diego Yacht Club. The team included Phil Cutti, David Holscher, Zach Jirkovsky, Luane Rowe, Blair Cannon, and Grace van der Byl swam between 22-26 August 2013, escorted by Captain Vito Bialla, navigator Hal McCormick and observer Patrick Horn for 100 hours 28 minutes between August 22nd – 26th 2013.

2014: Cyprus Israel Swim was a 6-man relay that swam 380 km (235 miles) from Cyprus to Israel in 123 hours 10 minutes. The team swam from Paphos Port Cyprus in Cyprus at 2:20 pm on October 5th and finished south of Rishon, Israel at 5:30 pm on October 10th and included Udi Erell, Doron Amosi, Ben Enosh, Ori Sela, Oded Rahav, and Luc Chetboun with a support crew of Erez Amir, captain Nimrod Or and Uri Brown.

2014: Delphinus was a 6-person team of Indian Air Force personnel who swam 286 km (177.7 miles) clockwise around Mumbai, India on October 28th-30th in 49 hours 44 minutes with Wing Commander Singh, Sergeant Gullupilli Narhari, Sergeant Ankar Kumar Patel, Sergeant S Sriharim, Corporal Aneesh Singh and Leading Aircraftsman Vicky Tokas.

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