In a grueling test of their endurance, 12 hearty members of the UC Santa Cruz swim team will forsake their pool with a view and plunge into Monterey Bay on September 30 for the seventh annual transbay swim.
UCSC Slug swimmers Hitomi "Homey" Aihara (left) and Audie McRae try to warm up between legs of last year's transbay swim. (Greg Walther)
It's a tough fundraiser, but UCSC swim coach Kim Musch said that's part of the idea.
"It's so hard and so miserable that you can't help but have an incredible bonding experience," said Musch. The Slugs hope to raise as much as $10,000 from private donors and local businesses, who underwrite the swim.
"It's way different from swimming in a pool or even swimming along the shore," said Musch. "Conditions can get a little rough sometimes, and when you get out in the middle of the bay, it gets a little spooky. You're a long way from shore, and it's weird to see a pod of whales or a giant sunfish, or a blue shark surface and come right at you."
Nevertheless, he said, the team has always completed the 26-mile relay. Swimmers typically take 20-minute shifts in the water, with kayakers paddling alongside. Support boats carry swimmers and paddlers. Swimmers even vie for a chance to participate, with spots going first to seniors, then juniors, noted Musch, who faces an endurance test of his own: "We hit the water at first light, and once they get to Monterey, the swimmers get to go home. I have to sail back, so I won't make it back to Santa Cruz until two or three in the morning!"
If you want to support the UCSC Slugs transbay swim, contact team member Jennifer Kruse at firstname.lastname@example.org.