First double crossing in SB Channel

Watford Swimming Club's Paul Lewis is making headlines in the open water world again. Paul completed the first authenticated double crossing of the Santa Barbara Channel for a man. Paul swam from Silverstrand Beach in Oxnard (on the California mainland) to Anacapa Island and back. Paul waited for one week for the optimal conditions, and was accompanied in the boat by his family, his wife Janet and his two daughters Hannah and Ema. Hannah swam to shore with her father as the boat horn blew 3 times to inform the beach goers of his accomplishment. Paul was ready to do the swim the Saturday before but conditions did not seem favourable so it was decided to wait. Paul's time was 12 hours, 54 minutes and 25 seconds in total, with the ocean conditions favourable and the water temperature was in the upper 60'sF or 20 C. In 1978, Cindy Cleveland became the first person to swim a double crossing from the California mainland to Anacapa Island and back.
August 15th 08


Paul Lewis celebrates with daughter Emma
on Thursday, immediately after stepping off
the boat following a 13-hour, 16-minute
solo swim across the Santa Barbara
Channel. It was the first successful attempt
 in more than two decades.

September 8, 2006 7:15 AM
Englishman Paul Lewis became the first person in more than two decades -- and the third person ever -- to successfully complete a solo swim across the Santa
Barbara Channel when he stepped ashore north of Leadbetter Beach on Thursday.  Mr. Lewis, 45, began his journey at 1:20 a.m. Thursday, about an hour later
than anticipated because of strong winds and rough water near Cueva Valdez on Santa Cruz Island. "It was a little bit rough for the first seven hours, but after then it was really perfect conditions," Mr. Lewis said. The 26-mile journey took at total of 13 hours, 16 minutes. Mr. Lewis' stroke rate was monitored throughout the swim and increased from 46 to an average of 50 as time went on.
On Wednesday, before leaving the Sailing Center in Santa Barbara, Mr. Lewis, who has swum many channels including the English Channel and North Channel, said the sense of accomplishment is what drives him to do marathon swimming. "It's just one bad day out of your life, and you've got the rest of your life to enjoy the achievement," Mr. Lewis said.
He said he decided to come to Santa Barbara after he trained for months to be the first to swim from England to the Isles of Scilly, but couldn't make an attempt due to bad weather.  Mr. Lewis said he swam the equivalent of 12 English Channels in the open water near his home outside of London, and spent about nine hours in the pool each week to train for the grueling swim. In order to fight off the chilly 60-degree average water temperature here, Mr. Lewis said he gained 25 pounds, but added that he had lost up to 16 pounds during a previous swim.  He said one of his scariest moments in the water came the first time he
attempted to swim the North Channel from Scotland to Ireland. After being in the water for 141/2 hours, and only 100 meters from the finish, he lost consciousness and drifted beneath the boat. He was unconscious for 15 minutes, and once at the hospital, he had a core body temperature of 28 degrees, which is on par with that of a corpse.
The first person to make a solo crossing of the Santa Barbara Channel was Cambria resident David Yudovin, who did so on Aug. 17, 1983, in 15 hours, 15 minutes. However, Mr. Yudovin's course was different from Mr. Lewis', beginning on San Pedro Point and finishing somewhere between Ventura and Oxnard.
"It's an amazing accomplishment for Paul," Mr. Yudovin said. "It's one of the major human accomplishments in athletics history, and he just did it -- and tremendously well in very rough conditions. "The second person to make the crossing was Ashby Harper, on Aug. 18, 1984.
Marathon swimmers like Mr. Lewis prefer to get the toughest parts of the swim out of the way at night, before afternoon winds create slow, choppy water. During his swim, Mr. Lewis had the accompaniment of a full moon -- as well as local kayaker Rob Almy, who remained six to 10 feet away to keep him on course.
Emilio Casanueva, founder of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, helped Mr. Lewis coordinate the event, and said he would like to see the Santa Barbara Channel become a more common destination for marathon swimmers. "This guy's English and there's a lot of people that swim the English Channel, so those people are going to say, 'Hey, there's something in America.' "

Kayaker Rob Almy unloads his gear after
guiding Paul Lewis through the Santa
Barbara Channel for more than 13 hours.

Paul Lewis
Swims from Scotland to Ireland

"now let's see, should I have a go at it the other way or go down the pub"

Watford's Paul Lewis swims from Scotland to Ireland

On the 26th July 1999, WSC member and "Club Person of the Year for 2000", Paul Lewis successfully swam from Scotland to Ireland becoming only the third person ever to do this swim in this direction. Paul had very good conditions for the swim but with a sea temp of only 58 and jelly fish all the way made this no easy swim and he wouldn't recommend this one to anyone! It took Paul 14.28 hours mainly because he didn't get the big pushes in from the tide that he expected. Paul's wife Janet swam in with Paul for the last 25mins making this an even more special occasion and she can confirm it was freezing with lots of jellies about. 
Very well done Paul on this swim which keeps him up with the very best at long distance swimming.

Report in Swimming Times by Alison Streeter MBE

Congratulations to Paul Lewis (38) from Hemel Hempstead who became only the third person ever to swim from Scotland to Ireland on 27th July in 14 hours and 28 mins. Conditions were perfect, the only problems were jelly-fish stings, which are more of a problem after the swim than during it. Three years ago, Paul was pulled out of the water hypothermic just 200 metres from the finish after a grueling 14 hour swim, but he was determined to return and finish it, so well done Paul.