Distance Swims

Distance Swims

The Dolphin Club provides an ideal training ground for swimmers who are planning long-distance swims. Our members have distinguished themselves in many marathon swim challenges, including:


  • Farallon Islands to Mainland (21 miles)
  • Lake Tahoe (length) (21 miles)
  • Catalina Channel (20 miles)
  • Coronado Island (11.7 miles)
  • Candlestick Point to Aquatic Park (10 miles)
  • Huntington Beach to Seal Beach (8 miles)
  • Sausalito to San Francisco (6 miles)
  • Capitola Pier to Santa Cruz Pier (6 miles)
  • Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge span (5.5 miles)
  • Bay Bridge to Golden Gate Bridge (5 miles)

Outside California

  • Manhattan Island (28.5 miles)
  • Molokai Channel (26 miles)
  • Lake Tahoe (length) (21 miles)
  • North Channel (21 miles)
  • The English Channel (21 miles)
  • Cook Strait, New Zealand (18 Miles)
  • Strait of Gibraltar (13 miles)
  • Tsugaru Strait (12 miles)
  • Maui Channel (11 miles)

Oceans Seven Challenge

In September of 2014 Dolphin Kim Chambers became the sixth person ever to finish the Oceans Seven Challenge when she crossed the North Channel.

She completed the 21 mile crossing in 13 hours and 6 minutes, swimming from Ireland to Scotland. She fought jellyfish and exhaustion but achieved her goal with an amazing support team including her mom Jo, and friends Matt Donahue and Darren Miller.

Prestigious Awards

About the greatest honor a long-distance swimmer can achieve is to be inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. These three current and former Dolphin Club members have been so honored:

1969Dr. David Smith
2019Kimberley Chambers
2023Suzanne Heim-Bowen

Swimming the English Channel

The English Channel is probably the most well-known long-distance swim. Several Dolphins have successfully completed the swim: Suzanne Heim-Bowen swam the Channel three times, twice in one year; Duke Dahlin completed his crossing at age 55; Lebanon-born Toufie Blaik swam the Channel twice, in 1953 and 1955, before joining the Dolphin Club in 1957. See the complete list below.

The English Channel swim is also undertaken as a relay. Several Dolphin teams, including two all-female teams, have completed the Channel relay, which requires each of six participants to swim an hour at a time until the entire distance is covered.

In 2023, a relay team of six Dolphin Club Members, all over the age of 70, swam the English Channel in 15 hours and 10 minutes. With an average age of 73.2 years, “The Old Goats”, Duke Dahlin, Sunny McKee, Thomas Neill, Julian Sapirstein, Joni Beemsterboer, and John Horner, are the oldest American team in history to cross the Channel.

Watch the documentary “21 Miles, 12 Feet, and 439 Years: The Old Goats and the English Channel.”  Written and produced by Nancy Friedman; direction and editing by Sharon Wong. The song “Shark Is Watching You,” written by Mark Keller.

English Channel swimming is governed by a rigorous set of rules enforced by the English Channel Swimming Association. Swimmers wear only a standard swimsuit and one latex cap; they are monitored at all times by an official observer in a pilot boat. Swimmers may accept food and beverages, but they are not allowed to touch the support boat at any time during their swim.

YearNameDateTime (Hr:Min)Direction
1953Toufie Blaik3-Aug-5316:05F to E
1985Suzanne Heim18-Aug-8510:11F to E
1986Suzanne Heim30-Jul-8610:02E to F
1986Suzanne Heim10-Aug-8610:24E to F
1988Diana Abele5-Aug-8811:20E to F
1990John Davies31-Jul-9010:01E to F
1994Laura Burtch30-Jul-9411:45E to F
1995John Selmer10-Aug-9510:58E to F
1996Becky Fenson19-Jul-9610:12E to F
1996Steve Walker19-Jul-9613:31E to F
1996Peter Urrea8-Aug-9614:38E to F
1999Heather Royer6-Aug-9910:43E to F
2000Suzie Dods7-Aug-0012:37E to F
2003Phil Scarborough7-Aug-0312:08E to F
2003Duke Dahlin8-Aug-0314:37E to F
2004John Ottersberg14-Aug-0414:36E to F
2004Si Bunting25-Aug-049:44E to F
2005Neal Rayner10-Aug-0513:50E to F
2005Brian Herrick11-Aug-0512:58E to F
2005Tom Keller16-Aug-0511:22E to F
2006Scott Haskins16-Aug-0610:25E to F
2006Jon Ennis13-Sep-0613:01E to F
2007Amber Rhett24-Aug-0713:20E to F
2009Michael Tschantz-Hahn31-Jul-0911:19E to F
2009Catheryne DiPrete17-Aug-0912:12E to F
2009Laurin Weisenthal26-Sep-098:33E to F
2012Adam Engelskirchen8-Aug-1213:50E to F
2012Greg Kearney22-Aug-1213:39E to F
2013Kimberley Chambers12-Sep-1312:12E to F
2016Ryan Utsumi26-Sep-1611:00E to F
2018Catherine Breed26-Jun-189:50E to F
2018Randy Edwards15-Jul-1816:45E to F
2018Yossi Ettinger19-Jul-1813:38E to F
2018Lauren Au Brinkmeyer20-Jul-1811:01E to F
2019Hubert Chaperon25-Jul-1914:07E to F
2022Lauren Lesyna23-Jun-2215:00E to F
2022Luca Pozzi3-Sep-2211:52E to F
2023Katie Soltis25-Jul-2312:04E to F

Catalina Channel Swim

The Catalina swim is to or from the island, across the San Pedro Channel, 20 miles or more. The first recorded solo crossing was in 1927. In the following years three Dolphin Club members were among the first twenty-two individuals to successfully complete the crossing. To date, twenty current and former Dolphins have swum it as certified by the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation:

YearNameTime (Hr:Min:Sec)Direction
1952Ray Carmassi18:20CM
1959Capt. Stewart Evans20:55CM
1963Isaac Papke12:45CM
1990Rick Barthels11:36:43CM
1997Peter Urrea13:24:54CM
1998Heather Royer8:42:57CM
2009Joe Locke9:45:52CM
2010Suzie Dods18:36:28MC
2013Kimberley Chambers11:26:30CM
2015Steve Walker12:23:18CM
2017Luca Pozzi10:32:55CM
2017Andrew Wynn11:21:43CM
2017Ryan Utsumi11:06:33CM
2017David Holscher12:31:22CM
2019Lauren Au Brinkmeyer10:48:35CM
2019Suzanne Heim-Bowen10:16:30CM
2021Thomas Neill12:59:31MC
2021Adam Engelskirchen10:58:39CM
2021Lauren Lesyna11:40:40CM
2023Jari Salomaa12:37:49CM
2023Andrew Cunningham11:29:16CM

Suzie Dods Catalina Swim July 18-19 2010

Joe Locke’s Catalina Swim September 8-9 2009

Farallons Islands Swim

The swim from the Farallon Islands west of San Francisco is one the toughest in the world.  It is a variable distance of 20, 30, or more miles in icy waters and strong currents.  By the mid-1960s a dozen top swimmers had attempted it and failed. The first successful solo crossing was in 1967 by Stewart Evans, a Dolphin Club member. Only five marathon swimmers have completed it and three were Dolphins, including the only woman, Kim Chambers. 

There was another notable crossing, a relay race in 1968.  A Dolphin Club swim team defeated the South End Rowing Club. The winning time was 14 hours 54 minutes and finished on our Aquatic Park beach. The Dolphin team was Ed Duncan, Lew Cook, Conrad Liberty, Stew Evans, Bill Harlan, and Bob Jimenez with George Bay as an alternate.

Col Stewart Evans, Farallon Island Swim 1967

Trailer for the documentary ‘Kim Swims’.

YearNameTime (Hr:Min:Sec)
1967Lt. Colonel Stewart Evans13:44:52
2014Joeseph Locke13:58:28
2015Kimberley Chambers17:12:39