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3/25/2023 - South Bay Speaker Series #2

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OUR PREVIOUS South Bay Speaker Series 


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Our 2022 Ocean Fever RELAY (MASTERS-YOUTH)


Our 2 teams (masters and youth) met at 22nd St Landing in San Pedro at 6pm.
Earlier we had our last practice at 12:30pm to finalize pairs swimmers. I am sure nobody was able to nap between 1:30 and 5pm....
Once in San Pedro we welcomed Kevin Shinnick who flew from Alabama to make this possible. Last year he kayaked for our youth relay but ot was easier since he was working in the south bay. 
We went straight to the Pacific Star to meet David Harvey and the boat crew, CCSF Observers Robert Phillipson and Jill Hanson along with our support crew: Greg Danylyshyn, Angie Bates and Richard Farr. Sandy Chiricosta Kenney there too, she was the mom in charge of keeping the communication with all the families 🙂
We went over safety protocols and announced our relay order.
Around 8pm we headed out to Catalina Island, some of us took a nap and some others went to the front of the boat to watch the 🐬 show.... Well yes... some of them paid the price of getting sea sick,  🤮 but the show was worth getting sick ... 🐬 🤮 🐬 🤮.
On our way over there, Kevin was lighting his kayak and getting ready with his cooler full of gels, drinks and food. We were lucky to have Patricio helping us on deck for the swimmers transition.
Around 10:30pm we got to the island and Kevin launched his kayak to start the crossing, but first guided our first pair of swimmers to make it to dry land to officially start the crossing. 😬 
(Youth) Dylan Kenney (RUHS senior) and (master) Steph Hess jumped in the water and headed out to meet Kevin and then continue to dry land. They were very excited and thrilled to start the crossing. 🤩 😊 
Once in dry land, they raised their hands up and CCSF observers started the clock at 10:51pm.
Second pair were masters Rossella Pescatori and Nelson Hansen, they high five with Dylan and Steph and swam for an hour...
Nelson was a long distance swimmer in Argentina and we know this hour was probably too short for him, and Rossella, Scarlett Fishermen was an olympic swimmer for Italy that unfortunately was sea sick... They both pushed it through for an hour and high five with (youth) Ethan Hott (MCHS swimmer) and (master) Me, Romina Caristo.
I was happy to be swimming with Ethan since we have a couple of practices pacing together. 
After an hour, we ✋ with youths Charlie Choudhury and Alex Danylyshyn (both RUHS swimmers and water polo players). None of them had ever swam an official open water race, but during practice they went from .5 mile to up to 4 mile... and from 5am practices to night swimming. So we knew they could do it!
The teens ✋ with RUHS senior Spencer Bennett and master Mikel A. Glavinovich.
These 2 worked/swam together a couple of practices so they trusted each other. Spencer's challenge was the water temperature, 🥶 but he got it with no problem.
They both ✋ with our last leg MCHS swimmer and xc Natalie Brown and master Beth Welty Dreyfuss along with support swimmer Basha Choudhury. Unfortunately Basha had to be pulled out because of safety according to the boat captain. Natalie improved so much from beginning to end of our training, she managed her 6 am XC training after our 5am practices. Beth was finally able to swim a leg after a year of personal challenges that made her pulled out of a 2021 relay.
By the time they finished their leg, it was dawn, of course we had to wake up Dylan... yes! He loves to 😴 😂. Steph and Dylan, pushed it the same as the night time. Around 2.4 miles. 
They exchanged good luck 🍀 messages with masters Rossella and Nelson. Even though Rossella wasn't feeling good, they pushed it  even faster than the night time, around 2.5 miles this time!
They ✋ me and Ethan and the water temperature was getting fresh (we never say COLD 🥶). 
I could tell Ethan was really enjoying it, but after minute 30' I was getting cold, and I was yelling at Kevin to tell Ethan to pick up his pace. 
We could see land, but we knew the next leg had to swim at least 1/2 hour to finish it... by minute 40' I was very cold 🥶, and all of the sudden a pod of dolphins started jumping over and underneath us. Kevin told us" THEY ARE WELCOMING YOU!" It is amazing the power of nature, how those creatures 🐬 🐬 helped Ethan and I and the rest of the crew to swim happily and faster!
We ✋ with youth Alex and Charlie, and even though they were 🤢, they got all the support from teammates!!!. After 20' We all jumped in the water, including MCHS swimmer and water polo Katie Kabealo and master Cade Mongomery (both alternate, same as Basha) and coach Angie Bates.
Water was freezing cold!!! Once Alex and Charlie touched dry land at Smugglers beach, nobody was there 😳. It is a tricky area to hike, but luckily a few minutes after we saw Matthew (Nelson's son) running towards us and a few minutes after mom Natalia Hansen and Katie's dad bringing our Ocean Fever banner... and that was how we got our group picture!
The boat drone took amazing pictures of our landing too!
We all had happy faces, cold, but happy. 🥶 😃 
Our journey to make this crossing happen was a lot!
First of all, we did it to Raise Awareness for Water Safety and Mental Health.
The date was super meaningful, disregard the fact that the 2nd was my birthday, the time between the start of our crossing and the ending was maybe the time, 2 years ago we lost a youth due to mental health. We know the struggle is real and I personally can talk about both points of views. 
We believe the ocean 🌊 is healing and helps us cope with our fears in life. 
And that is how we got our swim caps and hoodies "TRANSFORM FEAR INTO ACTION". Ocean Fever has a Sunday free program over the summer, where some of our youth and masters of this relay volunteered their time to help me in the water.
Less than a month before our crossing, we lost a master swimmer and LA county lifeguard that drowned in a pool. And personally, my son Ruka almost drowned at the age of 2.5 years old at the Redondo Marina, almost 14 years ago now.
We believe Ocean Safety should be a right and not a privilege. We are hoping to make an impact in our small south bay community that expands in other groups and areas around the world.
We want to thank you our Masters, that inspire our youth during this journey, beside our relay members, the king of the Catalina Channel John York, Krista Anderson, Fuad Burki, Anneka Sakovich, Sasha Marie Speer, and youth that managed sport practices, summer school and summer jobs, our last minute support crew, sponsors, La Bella Napoli, David Keller, Go Big Entertainment, Grocery Outlet, SiriusXM, Dive N’ Surf, Gourmet Trading Company, Thrivent, Anthony Baird for the huge discount in our gear and The Craig Eisenberg for the swim caps,  donors that helped us financially, along with local business that donated items to do our bake sale fundraiser and our Annual Day at the beach.
I am super grateful of our Board, Rachel Pinto, Chris Wikas, Rosana Echt and Virginia Schalck that put endless time to help at events without getting paid. 
And personally, Ina, Ruka and Ira Lomon for taking time away from them to be able to run the program and this event.
As you can see, it took a village to make this crossing possible. 🙏 
We are hoping we inspire you to consider being a part of our 2023 Relay! 😎 🏊‍♀️ 🌊 



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