Relay team makes historic swim from Oahu to Kauai

Linda Kaiser
Linda Kaiser

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - They swam against odds, a mob of stingers, and even a shark.

A team of swimmers are thankful for their lives after surviving a brutal trek from Oahu to Kauai.

On Monday morning, the six-member relay team made history as the first to swim the 72-mile channel, non-stop.

On Thursday, Hawaii News Now interviewed the lucky team member who went face-to-face with a giant shark and lived to tell us all about it.

"Remember the 'Jaws' poster where the girl is swimming and the jaws and the shark is right there? That's what I felt like. His head was at least as wide as my body and he was smiling at me," said marathon swimmer, Linda Kaiser of Hawaii Kai.

Kaiser laughs about it now, but on Saturday, about ten miles off Kaena Point, she says that shark came up just 6 to 8 feet below her, and she nearly walked on water.

"I'll never forget it. He was just white and he had the flattest, squarest head and his little beady eyes and I screamed. I think he startled me more than scared me because he wasn't there and all of a sudden he's there and so I screamed and bolted to the boat. I admit I just got out," said Kaiser, chuckling.

Hats off to Randy Brown who jumped right in and continued the journey.

But big teeth weren't the only threat on their nearly 48 hour swim to Nawiliwili Harbor.

The group of six, ages 32 to 63, also endured non-stop jellyfish stings.

"It's like a hot electrical shock and then it just sears you and then afterwards it just keeps pulsing and burning," said Kaiser.

Sound familiar?

That's what Australian swimmer, Penny Palfrey ran into twice.

Earlier this month, on her second solo attempt to cross the Ka'ie'ie Waho Channel, she was knocked out by what she called 'man-of-war soup'.

"I was no longer able to get the tentacles off my arms and it was like swimming with a baggy tee--shirt. The tentacles were just hanging off both my arms I pulled through the water and I couldn't keep going with it like that," said Palfrey.

"I thought she could do it, but after doing it, I don't think, I think it's highly unlikely anybody will swim that solo," said Kaiser.

Even as a team, Kaiser says taking turns swimming an hour at a time was nearly impossible.

"It's really hard for me to believe that I did it. I was crying. I lost it. It was the most amazing thing," said Kaiser.

Kaiser says part of the reason they kept going was no one wanted to be the first to quit and let the team down.

And the one lesson she got out of this experience that she wants to share is that if you have dreams, go chase them.

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