Courtesy of Oceanswimmr, Anacapa Island, California.

On November 4th, Ned Denison was sandwiched between two women Liz Fry and Fionnuala Walsh on their tandem circumnavigation swim around Anacapa Island off the California coast in 65°F (18°C) water.

Guided by the vessel Raptor, the trio pioneered the first counterclockwise direction of the island in 6 hours 45 minutes.

Filmmaker Ben Pitterle provided kayak support with observers Theo Schmeeckle and Lynn Kubasek and feeders Barbara Flanagan.

During the circumnavigation swim, the trio looked like they were going to ‘shoot the gap‘ – or swim between a rocky point and coastline. But as the official observer of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, Kubasek determined that shooting the gap would disqualify the swim as a circumnavigation swim because the rocky point was judged to be a contiguous part of the island. The swimmers went around the point and continued on with their successful tandem swim.

But her decision was authoritative and interesting because such decisions could be a difficult at various locations in other circumnavigation swims around the globe. “If there is water between the rocky point or arch and the island, I could see how someone could say that those are two separate points and swimmers attempting a circumnavigation swim could legally shoot the gap,” observes Steven Munatones.

On the other hand, perhaps at low tide or just under the surface, the rocks or arch could be a contiguous piece of the island or land. But in all cases, the observer makes the official determination and the athletes are safer going around every point. But what if a rocky point is 100 meters off the shore – or 200 meters or 400 meters or even more? Then these kinds of decisions become trickier and thornier.” [see below]

But Kubasek explains, “Although there was high surf and safety concerns that day, I believe that our decision was geologically sound. [It] may likely be established as the official route.

Arch Rock, together with the unnavigable, unbroken chain of pinnacles, boulders and other terrain features surrounding the Arch, is geologically connected to Anacapa and is obviously part of the island. This is identical to the concept that, although separated by gaps, the east island, middle island and west island collectively comprise Anacapa Island. Geological texts describe Arch Rock as East Island’s most notable natural feature. Therefore, to fully circumnavigate the island, the swimmer must swim outside Arch Rock
.”



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