Jim Barber and Victoria Ryan swim Molokai Channel

 Article courtesy of Karen Gernert

Update 10/06/2014Jim Barber and his training partner, Victoria Rian,successfully swam the Molokai Channel in under 14 hours and 42 minutes. Beginning at just after 3:00a (EST), these two amazing marathon swimmers completed this 26-mile challenge with the support of their crew (pictured right). “Thank you so much Goro Sulijoadikusumo, Roz, Dean Hawks, Roberta Norwood, Captain Ivan, Jarod,” said Victoria. “Jim Barber and I couldn’t have done Molokai without you all.” Congratulations on yet another amazing accomplishment!

When I think of Hawaii, I think of sun, sand, warm breezes, and palm trees. In my mind, Hawaii is peaceful place. Not so for IAM member Jim Barber.  When Jim heads to Hawaii the beginning of October, he will be focused on completinghis fourth swim of the Ocean’s Seven – the Molokai Channel between Oahu and Molokai Islands.

The Ocean’s Seven, which is marathon swimming’s equivalent to Seven Summits mountaineering challenge, is made up of seven long-distance open-water swims. These swims include the Irish Channel (between Ireland and Scotland), the Cook Strait (between the North and South Islands of New Zealand), the Molokai Channel (between Oahu and Molokai Island in Hawaii), the English Channel (between England and France), the Catalina Channel (near Los Angeles, California), the Tsugaru Channel (between Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan), and the Strait of Gibraltar (between Europe and Africa).  Jim has already completed the English Channel, Straits of Gibraltar, and Catalina swims. After completing the Moloka’i Channel, Jim plans to complete the swims in New Zealand, Japan, and Ireland.

Completing the Ocean’s Seven requires swimmers to swim in both very cold and very warm seas. It also demands physical and mental preparation, so the swimmers are prepared to overcome every condition known to defeat open water swimmers – from strong currents to stiff winds to marine wildlife. To date, no one has yet to complete the Ocean’s Seven challenge. For more information on the Ocean’s Seven, see the Open Water Source website.

The Molokai Channel swim is listed as a 26-mile swim between the western coast of Molokai Island and the eastern coast of Oahu in Hawaii. The main challenges presented in this stage of the Ocean’s Seven are extraordinarily strong currents, tropical heat, very warm salty water, large swells, and stiff winds. Don’t forget, of course, the aggressive marine life that may be encountered. While the swim is listed at 26 miles, that distance is point-to-point. Due to currents at the time of the swim, swimmers typically swim more than the stated distance to complete the crossing. The Molokai Channel swim was first completed by Keo Nakama in 1961 in 15 hours and 30 minutes. Since then, only 32 people have made successful crossings.

On October 5, Jim Barber will attempt the Molokai Channel in a tandem solo swim with fellow marathon swimmer, Victoria Rian.  Swim attempts of this magnitude don’t happen without a great deal of support. Jim and Victoria will be accompanied by both Roberta Norwood, the Crew Leader, and Dean Hawks, providing kayak support. Be sure to track Jim’s progress during his crossing via the GPS device he will be wearing.

Swimming the Molokai Channel in honor of Chris Clarke, donations in support of Jim’s quest and to honor Chris’ memory can be made to the Verbal Behavior Center for Autism, which Chris founded in 2003.

By Karen Gernert
Program Administrator
Indy Aquatic Masters

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