Kim Rutherford crossing Monterey Bay

Kim Rutherford Achieves a Dream Across Strait of Juan de Fuca

Courtesy of Terri Schneider, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington (USA) – Vancouver (Canada).

Kimberly Rutherford likes hard. Really, really hard – and preferably cold. Really really cold.

The 60-year-old California ice and marathon swimmer, coach and administrator was the third person in history to swim 40.4 km across Monterey Bay in northern California in 22 hours 6 minutes at the age of 55 in 2014 – on her third attempt. She completed an Ice Mile in 45 minutes 20 seconds in 2014.

Her most recent exploit was becoming the 9th person in history to complete a 16.8 km cross-border crossing of Strait of Juan de Fuca between Olympic Peninsula in Washington and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, finishing in 10 hours 22 minutes.

The difficulty of a channel swim is often correlated to the ‘roughness’ of the start and finish,” observed Steven Munatones. “The contours and geography of the coastlines in channel swims like the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland or the Cook Strait in New Zealand – or in the Strait of Juan de Fuca – preclude a traditional clearing of the water by swimmers. Those are clear hints of the difficulty of these types of crossings.

The rules of the Northwest Open Water Swimming Association state that ‘if geographic obstacles (e.g., cliffs) prevent the swimmer from clearing the water at the start, the swimmer may begin the swim by touching and releasing from part of the natural shore (e.g., cliff face)’ and ‘if geographic obstacles prevent the swimmer from clearing the water at the finish, the swimmer may finish by touching part of the natural shore’.”

It was a lifelong dream come true for Rutherford.


According to Terri Schneider who served on her escort crew, Rutherford had first imagined swimming across Strait when she was 9 years old on a family vacation. She kept that image in her mind for 5 decades and finally achieved her dream on August 23rd.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Successful Crossings:
1. Bert Thomas in 11 hours 22 minutes in 1955
2. Cliff Lumsdon in 11 hours 35 minutes in 1956
3. Amy Hiland in 10 hours 51 minutes in 1956
4. Ben Laughren in 10 hours 17 minutes in 1956
5. Marilyn Bell in 10 hours 38 minues in 1956
6. Vicki Keith in 14 hours 1 minutes in 1989 swimming butterfly
7. Andrew Malinak in 6 hours 59 minutes in 2015
8. Melissa Blaustein in 7 hours 45 minutes in 2017
9. Kim Rutherford in 10 hours 22 minutes in 2019

For more information about crossings of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, visit the Northwest Open Water Swimming Association‘s website here.

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