Monday, September 21, 2009

Linda Kaiser, Respecting And Conquering The Channels

One of Hawaii's most accomplished marathon swimmers and member of the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame, 58-year-old Linda Kaiser, notched another channel under her belt this month - her longest and most difficult channel swim to date.

Like Penny Palfrey in March this year and Harry Huffacker back in 1970, Kaiser crossed the 30-mile (48 km) Alenuihaha channel on September 12th in 17 hours from the Big Island of Hawaii to Maui.

Kaiser has also crossed the 26-mile (42 km) Kaiwi Channel (Molokai Channel) in 2007, the 9.3-mile (15 km) Kalohi Channel from Molokai Island to Lanai Island in 2001, the 7-mile (11 km) Alalakeiki Channel from Kahoolawe to Maui in 1991, the 8.5-mile (13.6 km) Pailolo Channel from Maui to Molokai in 1990, the 17-mile (27 km) Kaulakahi Channel from Kauai to Niihau in 2003, and the 17-mile (27 km) Kealaikahiki Channel from Kahoolawe to Lanai in 2005.

"You've got to respect the ocean. You've got to come prepared. If you're not serious, and you're not focused on what you're doing, you're bound to have trouble. The ocean doesn't put up with any wimps."

Kaiser should know. It was during her 1990 Pailolo Channel swim from Maui to Molokai when she noticed a dark shape in the water beneath her. According to her interview with Honolulu Magazine, the shape was "no larger than a fist at first, but was growing quickly and racing straight for her."

"All of sudden I thought, 'Oh, that's a shark.' He just kept coming straight up, and I said to myself, 'Ooh, this may not be good.'" After the 12-foot shark circled her a few times, the shark lost interest.

But that scare obviously has not slowed her down.

" It's a great feeling of accomplishment. I don't do it for anybody else. I do it for me."

Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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