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Anne Cleveland to take on Catalina channel — twice

With the double-crossing of the English Channel in her rear-view mirror, long-distance swimmer Anne Cleveland on Aug. 3 will attempt a double-crossing of another high-profile channel: Catalina Island.

This could be the end for the high-profile native La Jollan’s long and distinguished ocean-swimming career.

“I’m ready not to be the swimmer anymore,” admitted the 54-year-old Cleveland, a La Jolla High grad who now helps coach the school’s swim team. “This absolutely will be my last super-long one (swim).”

If Cleveland is successful Aug. 3, she’ll be “the only person ever to have done both channels both ways.”

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To train for the 42-mile plus double-crossing of Catalina, Cleveland trained in three-week cycles swimming distances from 20 to 60 kilometers in weeks of alternating difficulty. She likes to train under conditions simulating the worst-case scenario — cold, choppy seas.

“By training in rough conditions ... if it happens on game day – it doesn’t throw you,” she said.

Though undeniably an individual endeavor, Cleveland said she and other marathon swimmers rely heavily on their accompanying support crews and their coaches. In Cleveland’s case, that’s Todd and Alana Robinson. Last summer, he broke the men’s Catalina single-crossing record.

“The people in the boat are huge,” she said. “With my English Channel two-way, I could feel them willing me across. It is a team effort between the swimmer and the crew.”

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Once she semi-retires from long-distance swimming, Cleveland, now a Realtor, is likely to become even more heavily involved as a swim coach and mentor.

“Inspiring other people with your stories of channel swimming, that’s what you give back,” she said. “Coaching, that’s what I really want to move into.”

Cleveland enjoys working with youth most of all.

“Kids are my favorite training partner,” she said. “They laugh. They sing. They’re happy.”

In a lot of ways, Cleveland has returned to where she began. Back in the ‘70s at La Jolla High, she was such a skilled swimmer she was the only girl swimming on the boys swim team.

Now she’s coaching the swim team, which is coed. “I’ve come full circle,” she concluded.