La Jollan's Catalina Channel crossing bid halted

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

Anne Cleveland called off her attempt to double-cross the Catalina Channel Tuesday night.

But the 54-year-old La Jolla High grad and marathon swimmer, who’s done a double-crossing of the English Channel, added there were some “really good take-aways from this one.”

“I have had the most awesome support from around the world and my crew on the boat couldn’t have been any better,” she said. “They did everything perfectly: Everything seemed star-crossed and perfect, even the water warmed up right away as soon as I started swimming. I was never tired, cold or uncomfortable in any way and could have swum forever.”

Cleveland said her leg cramps started after about an hour of swimming in her lower legs. “I swam the 2nd and 3rd hours with no legs,” she said. “I was able to make them go away twice, but the third time they came back with a vengeance and I knew it was the death knell. I knew I would not even be able to make it to the ‘first finish line’ in Catalina.”

That realization, said Cleveland caused her to make the decision to call the swim. She said: “It was very hard to do with such a committed and wonderful crew and I really hated to waste the nice conditions. I swam until I was sure, then made the call.”

Cleveland was attempting to become the only person ever to have done both the English and Catalina channels both ways. Prior to her Aug. 3 attempt of the Catalina Channel, she had said that would be her last attempt at a major, long-distance swim.

Paula Selby, an observer on the boat accompanying Cleveland, said the long-distance swimmer started out from the mainland at 6:41 p.m. on Tuesday and began experiencing severe leg cramping a short time later. Selby said she attempted to recuperate by drinking liquids with electrolytes but called of her attempt about 9:45 p.m. when cramping continued.

Water conditions were good and ocean temperature wasn’t an issue, Selby said, though the water temperature was a cold 56 degrees when she started out, but had risen to 64 degrees or a bit higher a couple of hours later.

Selby said Cleveland expressed doubt as to whether she would attempt a double-crossing of the channel again.

“She would have had a record for double-crossing both (English and Catalina) channels, which would have been a first and quite an accomplishment,” Selby said.

Selby added leg cramping during long-distance swims is not uncommon, and though age can be a factor, she’s supervised younger, well-conditioned swimmers in their 20s who’ve experienced similar problems with cramps.

Cleveland trained for the 42 mile-plus double-crossing of Catalina in three-week cycles swimming distances from 20 to 60 kilometers in weeks of alternating difficulty.

Now a Realtor, Cleveland said she’d like to semi-retire from long-distance swimming and devote her energies to being a swim coach and mentor inspiring others.

“I have had an amazing experience with this swim and I have no regrets,” concluded Cleveland of her failed Catalina channel double-crossing. “Thank you to all of your for your kind words of support.”