Mark Baker, a board member of Aulea Swim Club, led a group of seven kids and four adults on a swim from Lanai to Maui over the Thanksgiving weekend.
He has swam this channel several times, and this time brought along students Josh Bittick, Eric Compton, Celia Compton, Jaek Horner, Cameron Lyon, Nicholas Zachmeier, and Skyler Webb, as well as adults Van Cornwell, Katie DeMieri and Alex Webb.
Webb, just over 10 years old, was the youngest swimmer to ever cross the channel. She completed the swim in about seven hours.
“Considering the current and her pace it is likely she swam more than 12 miles to reach the destination,” Baker said.
In addition to Webb’s accomplishment, Baker said in a letter to supporters that the 2012 swim will be remembered for several reasons.
“The degree of difficulty increased with a current that pushed the group south in the channel, making the destination of Lahaina difficult but not impossible to attain. … The faster group clocked a respectable 5 ½ hours. Swimmers are also likely to remember swimming through the ‘jellyfish aquarium’ (as described by Van) and the wonderful texture of ice cream on a saltwater shriveled tongue.”
The club’s name, Aulea, translates to ‘swimming together harmoniously,’ and Baker said hat is exactly what these swimmers did.
“They swam in two groups with two escort boats between the Islands of Lanai and Maui, crossing the Auau Channel. The official distance travelled is 8.9 miles but this year there were currents pushing the group south making the true distance they swam longer.”
To prepare for the swim, the group practiced swimming longer and longer distances over weekends.
“Training swims were highlighted by a swim in Waikiki when swimmers saw both a monk seal and a reef shark at the same time. The longest training swim was about four and a half hours,” Baker said.
The swimmers needed to not only build endurance but learn to swim as a group. They also needed to plan their liquids and nutrition carefully.
Baker said this is the sixth time Aulea has had swimmers cross this channel. The group is escorted by motorized boats.
The first swim in 2004 was inspired by Aulea parent Mike Miller and it has continued since under Baker’s guidance.