Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Back in the pre-GPS era of Lynne Cox, Penny Dean and John York and Cindy Cleveland, Catalina Channel swimmers were escorted by prone paddlers and the best guesses of their escort pilots.

Hank Wise decided to go old-school and surrounded himself by local watermen and water women who escorted him on their prone paddleboards.

Veteran observer Dan Simonelli said, “[They] make it memorable in every way. I was proud and honored to be a part of the journey. And even with the forced plan change in the middle, and perhaps because of it, it motivates and inspires me in so many ways [in swimming and life. Mission accomplished.”

Wise had previously completed 3 fast swims across Catalina – two separate solo crossings in 8:07 and a relay in 6:53, but his fourth crossing was a bit more of a bear [10 hours 56 minutes] with his team of Tom Gallagher, Peter Joseph, Chris Geer, Dan Simonelli, Raquel Dakota, and his brother as his escort pilot.

Gallagher agreed. “[Hank’s crossing required a] phenomenal physical push and mental recalibration to complete the channel. When Mother Nature decides to keep playing with you for an extra 3 hours as she draws you back towards Catalina, shares a few of her marine predators, and gives you a gut check at the end of the swim completion.

[Hank demonstrated] perfect swimming form; he never cracked as we knew there had to be significant pain and inner self-negotiating taking place
.”

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