Courtney Moates Paulk, One Of A Kind, Does The Triple Triple

Courtesy of WOWSA, English Channel + Catalina Channel + Manhattan Island.

Courtney Moates Paulk has two extraordinary sides to her persona:

* as a litigation attorney at Hirschler Fleischer
* as a marathon swimmer around the world

Paulk has been recognized by her peers as selected a Super Lawyer since 2010. She was recently selected as her firm’s first female president, a professional achievement that is not surprising given her long track record of success in the court of law in her home state of Virginia.

But it is her second side to her personality that truly sets her apart. She is undoubtedly one of the few in the legal profession who has been bitten by a sea lion [on a Catalina Channel crossing]. Given the rough-and-tumble nature of construction litigation that is her speciality, she kicked the sea lion in the head in defense. But at other times, she syncs up with the surrounding marine life that her synchronization with her legal clients. On other channel crossings, schools of flying fish near Santa Catalina Island, bioluminescent life in the night, giant schools of mackerel, and pods of dolphins have leaped and landed, swam and circled all around her for hours in the Pacific Ocean.

And similar to her singular elevation to become the first female president of Richmond law firm Hirschler where she was selected as one of the Best Lawyers in America (Commercial Litigation and Construction Law), Paulk has emerged in the global marathon swimming world with a singular achievement.

Last week, she achieved the Triple Triple, an unprecedented achievement in the marathon swimming world. With her most recent successful English Channel crossing last Monday, she has achieved 3 separate Triple Crowns of Open Water Swimming titles by completing 3 English Channel crossings, 3 Catalina Channel crossings, and 3 Manhattan Island Marathon Swims or 20 Bridges during the course of their career.

Paulk explains her journey to do 3 Triple Crowns, “The last two English Channel swims have been intended to be two-way crossings. In 2018, the conditions were brutal and they were calling for Force 7 winds on the return. The boat captain and I concluded that it was not a day for a two-way and we called it at France. Last week, I also had intended a two-way. The conditions were not exactly as predicted and a rain squall hit us about 7-8 hours in.”

Her Triple Crown journeys have included the following swims:

Catalina Channel – 4 total crossings:
October 10th-12th, 2017 – 64.6 km two-way crossing from mainland to Catalina Island to mainland in 33 hours 13 minutes (first leg was 12 hours 28 minutes + second leg was 20 hours 45 minutes to join the 24-Hour Club).
Note 1: Paulk was the first person to complete 2 of the Triple Crown swims as two-way crossings.
Note 2: Paulk was the 9th individual to complete a two-way Catalina Channel crossing.

September 4th 2016 – 32.3 km one-way crossing from mainland to Catalina Island in 16 hours 3 minutes 30 seconds.
Note 1: The crossing was intended to be a two-way, but the conditions were brutal with seas overnight reaching 10-12 feet. Paulk decided to stop on Catalina Island for a successful one-way.
Note 2: Paulk tore a tendon in her right wrist and had to have surgery to repair it.

September 10th 2013 – 32.3 one-way crossing from Catalina Island to mainland in 11 hours 50 minutes 36 seconds.
Note 1: This swim completed her first Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.

Manhattan Island Marathon Swim & 40 Bridges – 4 total circumnavigation swims:
July 28th-29th 2017 – 91.6 km 40 Bridges includes 2 consecutive laps around Manhattan Island in 20 hours 15 minutes 55 seconds (first lap was 8 hours 50 minutes + second lap was 11 hours 20 minutes 55 minutes).
Note 1: Paulk took her time during her first lap to avoid waiting at Battery that was necessitated by the tides.
Note 2: Her second lap was the fastest second lap ever recorded.
Note 3: Her time was the second fastest total time of the 11 individual who have accomplished 40 Bridges.
Note 4: Paulk was the 6th individual to complete 2 laps of Manhattan Island.

June 23th 2012 – 45.8 km in 9 hours 29 minutes 29 seconds

June 18 th 2011 – 45.8 km in 8 hours 59 minutes 19 seconds

English Channel – 3 crossings:
August 12th 2019 – 33.8 km in 15 hours 11 minutes.
Note 1: This crossing completed her third Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.
Note 2: Paulk became the first person to complete 3 Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.

August 22th 2018 – 33.8 km in 16 hours 5 minutes.
Note 1: This crossing completed her second Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.
Note 2: She became the 5th person to complete 2 Triple Crowns of Open Water Swimming.

August 10th 2012 – 33.8 km in 14 hours 4 minutes 44 seconds

Paulk explains more about another aspect of her prolific career, “I currently use swims to raise funds for SwimRVA to teach children to swim. I have previously raised funds for Swim Free, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (my husband Matt has had lymphoma twice in 2008 and 2012 and has been in remission since 2013), American Heart Association, and the Society for Melanoma Research (I have had melanoma).” Between 2011 and 2017, she has raised over US$75,000 for charities in connection with her swims that also includes the following swims:

Cape Cod Bay Crossing:
September 2th 2014 – 30.5 km in 9 hours 43 minutes 47 seconds
Note 1: She set a new course record that was subsequently broken.
Note 2: She was the 7th person to complete swim. To date, only 9 swimmers have completed the bay crossing.

Saguaro Lake at SCAR:
April 25th 2018 – 13.3 km in 4 hours 25 minutes 12 seconds
April 27th 2016 – 13.3 km in 4 hours 14 minutes 47 seconds
Note 1: In 2018, she completed all four stages of SCAR – 4 marathon swims in four consecutive days

Canyon Lake at SCAR:
April 26th 2018 – 14.1 km in 4 hours 29 minutes 42 seconds
April 28th 2016 – 14.1 km in 4 hours 54 minutes 22 seconds
May 8th 2014 – 14.1 km in 5 hours 22 minutes 31 seconds

Apache Lake at SCAR:
April 27th 2018 – 27.3 km in 7 hours 6 minutes 2 seconds

Roosevelt Lake at SCAR:
April 28th 2018 – 10 km in 3 hours 54 minutes 55 seconds
April 30th 2016 – 10 km in 3 hours 54 minutes 9 seconds
May 10th 2014 – 10 km in 4 hours 26 minutes 54 seconds

Ederle Swim
October 2011 – 17.5 miles from New Jersey to New York in 7 hours 59 minutes 20 seconds

Little Red Lighthouse in New York City
2010, 2013, 2014 – 10 km [times unknown]

Boston Light Swim:
July 26th 2014 – 12.9 km in 4 hours 26 minutes 33 seconds
2016 – 12.9 km relay
August 13th 2011 – 12.9 km in 4 hours 11 minutes 20 seconds
August 14th 2010 – 12.9 km in 3 hours 44 minutes 38 seconds

Potomac River Swim for the Environment:
2009 and 2010 – 12.1 km [times unknown]

Spuyten Duyvil Swim in New York City
September 17th 2017 – 10 km in 1 hour 43 minutes 24 seconds

Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
2003 – 2017 – 4.4 miles in various times

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