The Catalina Channel
The Catalina Channel is a 26-mile stretch from Catalina Island to the San Pedro Peninsula. The water temperature is usually in the 60's.
After a three hour boat ride to Catalina Island, a swimmer begins the swim back to shore at midnight to avoid shipping traffic. Bad weather, rough currents, sharks and barracudas, getting tangled in kelp and health dangers such as hypothermia, nausea and exhaustion are some of the obstacles the swimmer will face.
The swim takes from 12 to 15 hours, but the weather and ocean currents must also be cooperative.
For safety, a hired charter boat and kayaker will follow the swimmer. According to marathon swimming rules, the swimmer is not allowed to make physical contact with anyone during the swim. The swimmer is also not allowed to wear a wet suit. At the end of the swim, the swimmer must stand (unassisted) upon the shore line of Point Vicente.
Since 1927, only 139 people have successfully completed the swim, considered by many to be the North American "sister swim" of the English Channel.
For more information: http://www.swimcatalina.org