CATALINA CHANNEL, California, August 30. MARIEL Hawley became the 61st person and first woman from Mexico to achieve the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming after the completion of her Catalina Channel crossing this week.
“I was so happy to see that [friend] Laura [Lopez-Bonilla] finish that my confidence grew,” explained Hawley, a the member of Sport City, the four-way English Channel relay.
“When I saw her coming out of the water, I knew I was going to be next. That night, I couldn't sleep as I was thinking a lot about sharks. I was afraid and nervous and I think all the stress from training, travel, organizing everything, and finally being in California came out that night,” said Hawley.
Like many open water swimmers Mariel Hawley faced insomnia. “I could hardly sleep 4 hours, knowing it was going to be one of the longest days in my life. But I had no choice and I was ready. When I boarded the boat at 8 in the evening, the only thing that I wanted was to avoid getting seasick on the trip to Catalina Island. It went well, we got to Catalina and I was feeling perfect.”
In an attempt to catch the usually tranquil waters of the early morning, the statuesque swimmer started near midnight. “The minute I jumped in the water I felt special. The water washed out any bad thought from my mind.”
It was a special night, punctuated by a gorgeous sunrise. “I enjoyed the swim very very much, even when I was getting tired. The night was spectacular; I had never swam on such a dark night and felt so at peace. I could hardly see what was going on on [my escort] boat, but underwater was very different. There was having a wonderful fluorescent show going on every minute and with every stroke.”
The bioluminescence affected her swim in another unexpected way. “I hurried with my feedings – 30 seconds at the most – because I didn't want to waste time and waste a single minute watching the millions of stars shining under the sea. At times, I touched jellyfish but I didn't know what they were. They felt like little fish swimming under me but I was stung twice. I just stayed calm and carried on as the pain went away.”
Then daylight hit. “Wow! I could see thousand of different forms of jellyfish. Some looked like snakes, others like spirals, balls, necklaces, and little crowns. I was trying to find new forms every time I put my head in the water.”
But the Pacific Ocean aquarium show was not over yet. “Then came the dolphins. Since dolphins are always smiling, they came to remind me that this swim had a cause: the smile of many kids because we are raising money to help 100 low-income Mexican children obtain much-needed surgeries. As I started getting closer to the coast, I started feeling a little bit sad becoming sad because this dream was coming to an end. I had worked so hard and it was about to finish.
This will be a night to remember forever.”
Courtesy of Open Water Source