Mermaid mural planned to honor the late La Jolla swimmer Anne Cleveland


To memorialize record-setting swimmer and La Jolla resident Anne Cleveland, who passed away June 24 at age 61 from pancreatic cancer, a mermaid mosaic is being planned for installation along the stairs at La Jolla Cove. Funding is being sought and the mermaid should go up in the next few months.

At the July 13 La Jolla Town Council meeting, Cleveland was eulogized and the project was announced.

“Because she was such a town icon and amazing swimmer … a small group of us would like to do something to honor Anne and beautify the community. She swam at The Cove a lot, so we’d like to capture her spirit by a mosaic mermaid. We want to incorporate a mermaid and possibly a positive saying to recognize Anne and the life she lived,” said Pat Robbins.

Bird Rock artist Jane Wheeler has reportedly agreed to design the mural and when it’s complete, the community will be able to contribute a piece to the mosaic. “Our funding is pretty good, we think we’ll be able to cover it. But it will take a couple of months,” said Robbins.

Those who wish to donate to the project can visit:

Cleveland grew up in La Jolla and was on the La Jolla High School swim team before there was a women’s team. “She swam with the boys,” said friend and La Jolla Town Council trustee Gail Forbes. “Anne participated in the La Jolla Rough Water Swim and trained at La Jolla Cove and up and down the coast. She swam to Catalina in 1999. In 2001, she completed the Channel Island swim in 10 hours, 15 minutes. She went to the English Channel in 2002 and swam the 21 cold miles in 12 hours, 13 minutes. She had great perseverance. In 2004, she became the oldest person (at age 48), to complete a double-swim: she went to English Channel, landed in France and swam back.”

Forbes noted Cleveland’s civic activities as well. She was president of La Jolla Town Council in 2007-2008. “She balanced a difficult time in La Jolla, when there were arguments about pretty much everything: the name of the La Jolla Christmas Parade, paid parking in The Village, three-story height limits and she managed to bring our community through with a great deal of understanding, sympathy and humility,” she said.

Current La Jolla Town Council president Ann Kerr Bache added, “She was a world famous swimmer … a wonderful personality and her passing is a loss to the community.”

Cleveland will reportedly be recognized at a San Diego City Council. District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry’s field representative Mauricio Medina said the date would be announced through Bry’s social media.