Phoenix Swimmer Henry Palmer Finishes Santa Barbara Channel Swim

Photo Courtesy: Craig Lord

In one of the first sanctioned marathon swims since the falling of COVID-19 restrictions, Henry Palmer completed a swim across the Santa Barbara Channel this week.

Palmer finished the swim from Oxnard, Calif., to Anacapa Island in six and a half hours. He covered 14.3 miles in what was originally planned to be a 12.2-mile swim. Palmer, who didn’t use a wet suit, covered the distance in water averaging 59 degrees.

“This was my first cold-water ocean marathon swim, and the 59-degree water chilled me to the bone off the start,” Palmer told the Arizona Republic. “The cold combined with the countless jellyfish stings and pitch-black horizon for the first half of the swim pushed me to the breaking point. I had to dig deep within and pull out another gear. But that’s what I love about marathon swimming.”

Palmer, 17, is a senior at Brophy Prep in Arizona and a member of Neptune Swim Club. He was accompanied by teammate Joe Zemaitis and his father, Tom Palmer, in the support boat.

The swim is the latest open-water feat for Palmer. His longest was the 20 Bridges swim around Manhattan Island last year, covering 28.5 miles in just shy of eight hours. He’s also done one-mile swims to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate in San Francisco.

Among the next swims on Palmer’s radar are the Lake Tahoe Open Water Swim, moved to August, and a chance to do the 20-mile Catalina Island swim, though the latter will have to wait until 2021. Open water swims have also been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.

“He really found a passion for open water and set some great goals for 2020,” Zemaitis said. “The drive comes from a desire to have a unique and almost impossible-sounding goal and push the limits of what’s possible at a young age.”

Read about Henry Palmer in the Arizona Republic.