Aaron Peirsol to Paddle Across Catalina Channel for We Are Ocean, Cancer Research

Photo Courtesy: Courtesy Aaron Peirsol

Aaron Peirsol to Paddle Across Catalina Channel for We Are Ocean, Cancer Research

Olympic gold medalist Aaron Peirsol is planning a crossing of the Catalina Channel to raise funds and awareness for cancer research.

The event is planned for early October. Peirsol is partnering with Jack Shimko and his We Are Ocean organization. They are raising funds via GoFundMe, and information about the We Are Ocean program is available here.

Peirsol announced his intention to do the swim in an open letter, which is below:

Dear friends and family,

For some time, my oldest and dearest friends have been exploring the idea of paddling and crossing the Catalina Channel together. We’ve seen it as both a feat of accomplishment in line with, and with respect to, a long tradition of watermen that have inspired us, as well as a bonding experience we’d like to share with each other. It’s a feat of roughly 30 miles and a full day on the water, leaving before dawn and arriving in Newport Beach sometime in the mid to late afternoon, depending on conditions. We grew up staring at Catalina, and perhaps it was only a matter of time before we decided to cross that channel by own own power. The initial   intention was to keep it intimate and personal. Fortunately it has evolved to mean something even more.

We’re now also paddling in honor of those who are fighting for their lives facing cancer, and Jack Shimko’s program, We Are Ocean, which is run through the Newport Aquatic Center, or NAC. Jack himself is an inspiration in both his personal fight against cancer and his own physical endeavors, such as paddling the entire chain of the Channel Islands. To expand his reach further, Jack and We Are Ocean provide cancer patients and survivors a healthy and holistic experience including healthy food and environments, activities such as diving, sailing, paddling, surfing, yoga, meditation, and community. This particular comprehensive camp experience will take place at White’s Landing, on Catalina, over the course of the first week of October, 2021. On September 30th, some of us will head over to Catalina with Jack and his camp looking to help the campers immerse and heal in that magical ocean off of Catalina.

We will have the privilege of helping with the camp at White’s Landing while a window of good weather unfolds to allow us to paddle back to Newport Beach within the first week of October.  One of the boards we will be using is a 15ft long, fire-engine red prone board that was made for Jack by Joe Bark called the Board of Hope.  After the paddle, over a thousand names of cancer survivors will be written on the board to commemorate their journeys. This paddle will be both in honor of our group’s collective friendship and love of the ocean, and of those who are fighting for their lives.

To know more about We Are Ocean, use this link. If you feel like donating to We Are Ocean, here is the link. To those of you who have already donated, thank you. To those of you who also donated to the Ben Carlson Foundation and the paddle they did last weekend, thank you for that as well; that was a resounding success.

Best to all, wish the camp the best of luck and wish us fair winds and following seas.

Aaron Peirsol